Refugees are not statistics — they are mothers, fathers, and children whose lives have been turned upside down by persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations.
This year, Adventists all over the world will come together to observe World Refugee Week with a special Sabbath day on June 17, listening to the voices of refugees sharing with ADRA their personal stories on “finding freedom,” which is the theme of the UN 2023 World Refugee Day.
Refugees from four regions of the world, like Ahmed who was forced to flee militant groups in Iraq, and Lorna, who feared for her life and fled violence in Columbia, spoke to ADRA. Their stories will be shared on World Refugee Sabbath, in their own words, shaped by their experiences, thoughts, and emotions that connect our humanity.
When we begin to see our humanity and “freedom bound up in others in the bundle of life,” we will better listen to the voices of refugee communities worldwide and move closer to the vision of what God intended.
Their stories illustrate that the scale of humanitarian need is so far from the world God intended.
There are 103 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according to the latest data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Among them are more than 32.5 million refugees, the highest population on record.
Experts predict this figure will rise again sharply in 2023; that’s 32.5 million men, women, and children
forced to leave their home countries in search of safety and freedom.
But while the scale of the global refugee crisis has escalated, support for some of the world’s most vulnerable people has not kept pace. The gap between those needing resettlement and those resettled is quickly widening, emergency relief funds are being stretched, and refugee camps in places like Bangladesh and Lebanon exceed capacity.
We are witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. Hence, understanding the scale and global impact of the refugee crisis is vital as we consider our response on a personal and international level.
ADRAs Work with Refugees
ADRA continues to help refugees worldwide, including those affected by the deadly earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria and those who remain uprooted from their homes in Ukraine, both inside and outside of its borders, more than a year after the invasion.“We can be truly free, ultimately, only together.”
ADRA has also partnered with our churches to help with the crisis. Our church communities have responded to global refugee needs – from speaking up for just and generous resettlement programs to welcoming refugees into family homes. God’s people worldwide are working to ensure those fleeing for their lives find safety, peace, and belonging.
In other parts of the world, ADRA teams are leading remarkable advocacy initiatives, that garnered attention from lawmakers and the United Nations, to raise awareness about the refugee crisis and find policy solutions in places like Mexico, Serbia, and Sweden.
We feature some of their stories in this edition of the newsletter to encourage you (personally) and your
country office (professionally) to act, to join with God in bringing peace through generous welcomes, speaking for justice, and being graceful and faithful presences in our communities.
This Refugee Sabbath, we invite you to listen to cries for justice from refugees – in their own words.