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5 MORE Ways To Learn About Refugees

“Respond to what Jesus said, that’s all: “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger” — refugee — “and you took me in … Inasmuch as you did unto one of the least of these my brethren, you did unto me.” It’s simple obedience.

Evelyn Mangham, Founder of World Relief’s Resettlement Program.

By Lisa Zanoni, World Relief Spokane relationship manager

Last year when I wrote my blog, “Five Ways to Learn More About Refugees,” there were 103 million displaced people in the world; 32 million were refugees. In one year, those numbers have risen at an alarming rate. According to the UNHCR, at the end of September 2023, there were more than 114 million displaced people and more than 35 million refugees. UNHCR shares: “This marks the largest ever single-year increase in forced displacement in UNHCR’s history, propelled by the war in Ukraine and other deadly conflicts.”

These numbers from the UNHCR website are staggering:

  • By the end of 2022, Europe hosted 1 in 3 refugees in the world (36 percent). The number of refugees hosted in Europe rose from 7 million at the end of 2021 to 12.4 million at the end of 2022.
  • Turkey continues to be the world’s largest refugee-hosting country, home to 3.6 million refugees or 10 percent of all people displaced across borders.
  • Germany hosted nearly 2.1 million people, 6 percent of all refugees globally.
  • In 2022, more than 159,000 people risked their lives trying to reach Europe by land and sea; more than 2,439 are dead or missing.

The United States will welcome 125,000 of these refugees in FY 2024, which is approximately 0.3571% of all refugees. While this number is higher than previous years (the lowest was in 2020 at 15,000), it is a tiny percentage of the whole. This begs the question “WHY”?

Humans are hardwired to fear the unknown. It’s in our DNA whether we like it or not. The good news is that we can change our responses and actions by learning more and educating ourselves about who refugees are.

Here are five ways you can learn more about refugees.

  1. Befriend a refugee. Gather your friends and form a Good Neighbor Team with the help of World Relief. We will guide you through the process of walking alongside a refugee family, helping them become self-sufficient in their new community.
  2. Take our “Intro to Resettlement” course for free. This course will enhance your knowledge of the best ways to have conversations with refugees.
  3. Patronize a refugee-owned business. Cedar Coffee is a local coffee shop owned by former refugee Igor Anisimov, and in my opinion has the best chai in Spokane.
  4. Watch a movie that shows the journey of a refugee. One excellent example is “The Swimmers.”
  5. Attend the World Refugee Day celebration on June 15 at Nevada Playfield and experience excellent food, entertainment, a naturalization ceremony and refugee vendors.

Bonus! Did you know there are more than 70 verses in the Bible that tell us how we are to treat the stranger among us? I encourage you to look up those verses. A simple google search will direct you.

“Respond to what Jesus said, that’s all. It’s simple obedience.

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