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Responding “Here and There” to Global Humanitarian Crises

At dawn on February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian people awoke to a nightmare. Missiles whizzed overhead. Homes and buildings crumbled. Russian troops had crossed the border in a declaration of war. 

Nearly 6,000 miles away in Memphis, TN, Olga watched the news and wondered if her mother, Valentyna, would be okay. 

“I texted her,” Olga said, “‘Has it started bombing?’ She replied, ‘Yes, yes, it has started.’”

A “Here and There” Approach to Global Humanitarian Crises

Today, perhaps more than ever before, we are a world connected. The ripple effects of global humanitarian crises like conflicts, disasters and climate instability are felt across thousands of miles and in communities around the world. 

They are felt in families like Velentyna and Olga’s, and among millions more caught in the largest global displacement crisis in human history.

Because of this, we at World Relief are responding with a distinct “here and there” approach that unites our U.S. and international work to boldly address the urgent realities of today’s most pressing global humanitarian crises. 

Here are just some of the ways we’re helping families and communities rebuild and thrive both “here and there.”

Ukraine: Providing Safe Havens in the Midst of War

We respond to global humanitarian crises by distributing food to displaced people in Ukraine.
Food is distribution to Ukrainians facing displacement.

From the earliest days of the war in Ukraine, we have been responding to urgent needs directly on the ground,  providing shelter, food and psychosocial support. Through trusted partners in the region, we have reached over 345,000 individuals in Ukraine and surrounding countries. 

In 2023, we established an office in western Ukraine to continue responding to needs directly in the country. We are addressing high levels of war trauma, particularly among women, children, the elderly and marginalized populations, by training church and community leaders on mental health support and providing education scholarships to those interested in serving their country through long-term psychosocial support. 

Like Valentyna, millions of Ukrainians have had to make the difficult decision to seek safety outside their home country as a result of this global humanitarian crisis. Many have sought refuge in neighboring countries, while others have looked for ways to join family or connections in countries like the U.S.

Valentyna arrived safely in Memphis on May 10, 2022. Through our World Relief office in Memphis, we were able to welcome and walk alongside her as she adjusted to life in the U.S. 

With your help, we have served over 5,000 Ukrainians in the U.S. with support including language classes, cultural adjustment resources, job and housing assistance and more since the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sudan: Meeting Urgent Needs and Welcoming Refugees  

In South Sudan, war has created a global humanitarian crisis.
Conflict in Sudan has left millions in need of urgent humanitarian aid.

For decades, Sudan’s westernmost region of Darfur has been plagued by armed conflict, hunger and poverty. And for decades, World Relief has been responding to serve alongside Sudanese communities in Sudan and in the U.S. 

Since a renewed outbreak in violence in April 2023, Sudan has faced country-wide conflict and a dire humanitarian crisis. Thanks to our new presence across the Sudanese border in Chad and our long-standing partnerships in Sudan, we reached tens of thousands in Sudan with food, water, medicine and blankets by September 2023. We continue to serve hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people with water and hygiene resources, food, healthcare and more.

Across our U.S. offices, we’ve also responded to this global humanitarian crisis by welcoming thousands of Sudanese people fleeing war in their home country. This includes welcoming many of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” who arrived in the U.S. in 2001. Alongside our church partners, we helped hundreds of them acclimate to life in their new communities. Their challenges were significant because they were so young and had experienced significant trauma. Through programs like Good Neighbor Teams, we helped them learn English or improve their fluency, navigate physical and mental health challenges, enroll in school and apply for jobs. 

In the past five years alone, we have served over 600 Sudanese refugees in communities throughout the U.S. through resettlement support, including job and housing assistance, mental health services, school enrollment, youth programs and more, and through family reunifications. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Strengthening Communities and Rebuilding Lives

DR Congo faces a global humanitarian crisis due to ongoing conflict.
After decades of conflict in DR Congo, millions need urgent humanitarian assistance.

DR Congo has faced decades of conflict and insecurity, leading to one of the most complex and longest-lasting humanitarian crises. Consistently ranked among the poorest countries in the world, DR Congo’s hardships have deepened in recent years due to Ebola and Coronavirus outbreaks, the 2021 eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano and most recently, renewed clashes between rebel group M23 and DR Congo’s military. 

These crises have uprooted millions of DR Congo’s most vulnerable residents, destabilizing communities and destroying livelihoods. According to UNHCR, 25.4 million people, a quarter of the population, are currently in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 6.3 million people are internally displaced and over 1 million have fled as refugees and asylum-seekers to neighboring countries. 

In the wake of violence in 2023, many humanitarian aid actors in the country were forced to halt activities. At World Relief, however, we continued to boldly engage the crisis in eastern DR Congo through our strong church and community networks — and we continue to do so today. 

In fiscal year 2023, World Relief DR Congo reached more than 411,500 people through programming designed to strengthen communities through agricultural support, strengthening family relationships, savings groups and community peace building. 

With millions fleeing DR Congo in search of refuge, we have also responded to this global humanitarian crisis through our U.S. offices. In just the last five years, we have walked alongside over 3,900 individuals from DR Congo as they rebuilt their lives in the U.S. through housing assistance, health and mental health support, youth programs, language classes, employment assistance, family reunifications and more.

The U.S. Southern Border: Engaging Displacement Across Borders

Global humanitarian crises have brought many to the U.S. southern border in search of safety and brighter futures.
Humanitarian crises around the globe have brought many to the U.S. southern border in search of safety and brighter futures.

The humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is a uniquely powerful example of the interconnectedness of global displacement and how it impacts communities around the world. 

Challenges at the border are fueled by global humanitarian crises that lead desperate people to leave their homelands in search of safety and opportunity. Newcomers need trustworthy advocates as they seek to rebuild their lives and navigate a complex U.S. legal system.  

Through partnerships with local churches and community networks across the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego-Tijuana, Mexico, we’re serving families seeking refuge from around the world by providing temporary shelter and meals. 

Once someone has entered the U.S., our U.S. offices are able to offer legal services, English language instruction and holistic support for refugees and other immigrants as they integrate into their new communities. 

We take our “here and there” response a step further by also passionately advocating in local communities and in Washington, D.C. for biblically-based immigration policies that both ensure security for the American people and due process for those fleeing persecution and seeking refuge, as well as advocating for foreign policies that support and protect the global poor.

Responding “Here and There” for Thriving Futures

At World Relief, we recognize that the world’s most significant challenges are inextricably linked. That’s why we take a global, whole-picture approach to addressing challenges across multiple contexts. 

Our distinct “here and there” approach unites our work in the U.S. with our work in nations around the world to address global humanitarian crises through a shared purpose and vision — a future with thriving, welcoming communities where families flourish and people experience restorative relationships with God, their neighbors, themselves and all of creation.

After decades of serving displaced communities “here and there,” our passion for and dedication to this work is driven not only by recognizing those experiencing displacement as precious image bearers of God, but as our neighbors, friends and coworkers. People whose fates and stories are inextricably linked with ours. 

Whether welcoming those who have made the difficult decision to seek safety outside their home countries or addressing the drivers of mass displacement to ensure fewer and fewer people are ever forced from home, we’re committed to helping families and individuals flourish and thrive wherever and whenever they need us most.

Will you boldly act to help refugees and displaced people around the world today?

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