The URI community comes together in support of those who are seeking safe refuge and all those affected by the refugee crisis. Below are some of the actions being taken around the world to help our global family.
Powerful indeed. I will use this open letter (below) and send to my representatives in Congress, the Senate and the Office of the President of the United States. I will also post this to the Wisdom Circle CC Interfaith Ministers FB page asking them to share with their representatives and indeed all whom they know. We can make this open letter global by sharing it with everyone we know.
Prayers and Action for the World.
Rev. Claudia Roblee
AN OPEN LETTER TO WORLD LEADERS FROM A BISHOP IN JERUSALEM AND A REFUGEE
1 September 2015
Dear leaders of the world and people of good conscience,
I write to you from Jerusalem to address the very serious refugee situation affecting countries across the Middle East and now Europe. I myself am a refugee, as well as a bishop. Both my faith and my history oblige me to speak up for these women, men, and children who are washing up on beaches, are found decomposing in trucks on the highway, are crossing borders of barbed wire, and are barely surviving in makeshift camps.
The last weeks have seen not only an increase in the numbers of these refugees, but also an increase in tragic outcomes for many. This is a shameful situation, and one which the international community cannot ignore. It must be remembered that refugees are not vacationers. They did not leave their homes because they were looking for adventure. They are displaced as a result of poverty, violence, terror, and political conflict. Frustration and fear lead them to risk their lives and their life-savings in search of safe havens where they can live and raise families in peace. We must remember that these are not “waves” or “masses” or “hordes”—these are human beings who deserve dignity and respect.
As a refugee and as Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, I have two messages for world leaders:
- I believe it is the responsibility of the world community, including the European Union, to have a clear policy to accept the stranger among us. “Welcoming the Stranger,” a set of affirmations from faith leaders developed in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is a good place to begin and a good model to follow. Most major religious traditions in the world advocate welcoming the stranger, showing hospitality to all. In Matthew 25 Jesus says the nations of the world will be judged by how they treat the poor, the hungry, the immigrant: “‘And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
- All political leaders are responsible for this current refugee crisis, either directly or indirectly. This is the result of a global system, not merely a local crisis. The international community has not helped solve the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Economic and political interests have taken priority over peacemaking and dialogue. Our region has become so chaotic that it opens the door to extremists and terrorists; our people are becoming desperate. The Middle East needs justice and peace, not only to end the flow of refugees, but so that displaced people can return to their homes in dignity, and live in free democratic states.
My words may be strong. They may be direct. But this humanitarian crisis requires even stronger actions. These people, our brothers and sisters, are crying: “Who will welcome us? Where is justice?” God hears the cries of the poor, the oppressed, and the refugee. I pray that soon, political leaders and policy makers in the Global North will also hear their cries. This will begin when leaders approach refugee communities not merely as problems to be solved, but as fellow children of God deserving accompaniment, dignity, and human rights.
For this reason, I urge all world leaders and people of good conscience to act quickly, for the sake of the humanity we share.
Bishop Dr. Munib Younan
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
Voices of Support from URI Europe
Dear URI friends,
THANK YOU thank you so much for all your care and expression of solidarity in terms of the current REFUGEE CRISIS.
It feels good to know that in URI we are together as a family and can act together.
Thousands of refugees arrive every day in Germany, and it is the same – even more so – in arrival countries like Greece, Italy, Serbia etc. etc.
Not to speak of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and others which already have each well over 1.5 million refugees each for many months and years now.
Denmark has just resumed train travel, which was halted yesterday, as so many refugees want to pass through Denmark to Sweden.
Germany has amended the prognosis of newly arriving refugees for this year to 800 000, but probably that will be history and higher….
In Germany our DMLB CC is collecting money to buy necessary goods for refugees.
Very close to our office and homes is a transition camp where refugees stay for the first 2 months here…
We will buy most needed goods, as the refugees really have nothing. The population is donating various goods, but there are always things lacking, e.g. baby food, socks etc.
We can accept donations online, buy needed goods and pass them on to the newly arriving refugees in the transition camp here in Bonn Bad Godesberg.
You can find the bank information here.
One can make an online donation here. The system is in German, but I offer the necessary translations below.
- Ihre Spende = your donation; Betrag = amount; Zahlweise = mode of payment;
- Giropay = giropay; Kreditkarte = credit card; Überweisung = bank wire;
- BIC (ihre Bank) = BIC (bank code) (your bank);
- “Ich übernehme die Kosten ….etc.” = I will pay for the cost of the money transfer. The amount of the donation will be increased accordingly.
- “Ich habe die AGB …” = I have the read the terms of this service and accept them.
- “Ihre gewählte Zahlweise” = your selected way of payment;
- “Ihre Daten für Zusendungen und Rückfragen” = your data for mailing (e.g. receipt) and queries;
- Vorname = first name; Nachname = family name; Firmenname = company name;
- Straße Hausnr. = Street, house no; Postleitzahl = zip;
- Ort = city; E-Mail = email; Telefon = telephone)
Of course, by the way, Sheikh Bashir includes refugees in his spiritual care activities. For those who do not know him: he is co-founder of URI global and former GC trustee, co-founder and member of the boards of URI Europe and URI Germany as well as Sheikh of the German Muslim-League.
GC trustee Marianne Horling’s Intercultural Circle URI Bonn CC has done work with refugees for some months now.
Particularly they have been collecting needed items. Marianne is also leading painting classes with refugee children.
Many warm regards form
Karimah Stauch, Regional Coordinator, URI Europe
The refugee crisis is a terrible thing and I think that we all need to help and show that we are taking care of our brothers and sisters from Syria and other places.
As I know, there are a lot of individuals from different Cooperation Circles across Europe that are trying to help; collecting food, blankets, provide help in translation, providing shelters and love to those people in need.
I know that some of my friends from Youth for Peace Cooperation Circle from Bosnia and Herzegovina give donations and collect clothes and send them to Belgrade for refugees.
Also, Karimah will provide you more information, but they are organizing some activities in Germany as DMLB Cooperation Circle and our friend from Belgium, Abdelkarim Bellafkih, who is member of BZN Cooperation Circle is helping through activities organized by Free Hands Organization.
I was part of activities in Turkey with some of my friends.
So there are a lot of things going on. Usually we are not aware of it because we like to do it individually and anonymously, because the most important thing is to help those in need.
Many warm regards,
Lejla Hasandedic, URI Europe
The refugee crisis affects all of Europe and we are involved in one or another way in helping those people who are trying to survive from the war. The majority refugees prefer to reach Austria and Germany due to their life standard and economic stability.
We only see on TV how many people enter Germany every day, but Karimah could say more about the situation in her country.
From our perspective, as we are “door” to Europe but not so attractive as a life standard, the crisis has another face.
We personally (URI Bulgaria) are helping as a part of different campaigns in the country. Now for the beginning of the new school year (in my son’s school), we are not going to buy flowers for the teachers, but will buy school materials for refugees’ children.
Angelina Vladikova, Europe Cooperation Circle Liaison
Other Cooperation Circle Voices of Support:
This is a very important aspect of life. Each individual must contribute to help victims of this tragedy in the long run. Yes we can talk continuously on the issue, but as Kay has already stated, it’s time for action. On the global platform it is seen as an ever-unending big problem but I believe that we can start from our neighborhoods where an immigrant lives on the streets or perhaps goes hungry for days, etc.
Recently I was informed of a similar situation of a migrant family from Niger who are fulani's brought to Ghana by a livestock farmer to herd his cattle ranch. But he failed to provide shelter, clothing, food, etc. and so this family of 11 had no choice but to make for themselves a similar shelter they used to build back in their villages in Niger in order to survive, and to herd the animals at the same time. Unfortunately they live in an unhealthy environment on the same compound with the cattle exposing them to flies, mosquito bites, many other insects and risk of diseases. (Photo above.)
And so with this discovery Pet & Lisa Organization Ghana and Shalom Ghana CC are seeking donations of any kind to help and make life comfortable for this family and I hope with contributions from us soon, we would play a role in assisting and helping the menace and troubles migrants go through right nextdoor. By the weekend we plan to visit and donate mosquito nets as a first step, and you are welcome with contributions of any kind too.
Let's all begin today and do our part. Let’s go out from our homes and extend the little help we can to those who need it. Thanks for sharing your letter, Dr. Munib.
Chair, Shalom Ghana CC
What a strong voice we hear from "AN OPEN LETTER TO WORLD LEADERS FROM A BISHOP IN JERUSALEM AND A REFUGEE".!
Yes, we like to pronounce 'we are ONE". He openly points out the reasons why such a phenomenon as "refugees" has become so serious. It was said long ago: " Sowing a wind, you will reap storm"
Galina Ermolina (Russia)
We or our ancestors were all refugees once - and could easily become so again.
George from New Zealand
If all faiths in the world talks about sharing, bringing peace among all people and doing good is a fundamental belief and what we all live for, then URI needs to put in such mechanisms which will allow circles worldwide to respond adequately and hospitably to victims of this, this will physically explain "LOVE" which is the basis of our existence on earth and which we are fighting for each day through all CC's worldwide.
And to give you an example, Shalom Ghana CC exists because of the above and it is our main mission to assist the poor and needy here in Ghana and beyond.
I am looking forward to partnering with CCs and people around the world to begin mission trips to Ghana with collective donations to serve the many refugees living here in places like the Budumbura camp, to assist poor and needy especially less privileged children, youth and aged. We are still in dialogue with Pauline and Bumblebee Foundation CC to initiate our partnership towards the above goal.
We owe this to the world as the first duty to mankind I am sure.
Greetings from Shalom Ghana CC and Pet & Lisa Organization Ghana.
Love equals Giving. God bless us all.
Chair, Shalom Ghana CC