Supporting Those Who Need it Most
While the news media is distracted by the Trump administration’s latest shenanigans, believe it or not, the refugee crisis is still raging on. In fact, it’s reaching unprecedented heights, with 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Of those, 25.4 million are classified as refugees. That’s over 25 million people — over half of them children — looking for a place safe from violence, persecution, and fear to call home.
While some countries have been actively resettling millions of refugees, the US has been slow to do our part. The 85,000 refugees the US resettled in 2016 was a good start. But with a president in the White House who has proven that he wants to limit migration and refugee resettlement, we have a lot of work to do.
World Refugee Day is Only the Beginning
Influencing policy in Washington can be slow work, and refugee families need help now. Here’s how you can support refugees in your community this World Refugee Day and beyond:
Item number 1
Put Your Wallet Where Your Heart Is
Your donation to the International Rescue Committee or other reputable global aid organization could be instrumental for helping refugees. Our partners at the IRC work tirelessly to ensure that those whose lives have been shattered by conflict and natural disasters can regain control of their lives. In the US, they help with resettlement, help newcomers into jobs that fit their skillsets, get children set up in schools, aid in immigration and citizenship processes, and are a fantastic resource for health and safety needs.
Item number 2
Support Refugee-Run Businesses
It’s not easy to be cleared to resettle in the US. The immigration process can take years, if refugees make it at all. Even harder is finding a new normal once they arrive. Finding jobs can be especially difficult, as certifications and job experience don’t always translate to the US job market. But, over 80% of refugees are self-sufficient within the first 6 months, often thanks to resources like the IRC. When refugees start their own businesses, community support is essential to their success. From restaurants to medical practices, refugee-owned businesses are everywhere.
Item number 3
Volunteer Your Time
Whether you do so through the IRC's volunteer program or a local refugee support group in your community, your time and energy are valuable resources. Volunteers often mentor newly-arrived refugees and help them acclimate to life in the US, including everything from directing new arrivals to the nearest grocery store to teaching English language classes. And if you have an especially needed skill — such as being fluent in Arabic and able to translate, or are an immigration lawyer or a law student — you can make a huge positive impact on refugees in your area by volunteering your time.
Item number 4
Give The Best Gift Ever
Want to know exactly how your donation will help refugees around the globe? The IRC’s Rescue Gifts are just the ticket. With options such as a year of school for a child, a newborn baby kit, emergency medical supplies, mosquito netting, teaching supplies, warm blankets, and temporary shelters, Rescue Gifts provide basic necessities for life and dignity to refugees around the world.
Item number 5
Spread The Word
Every single refugee who is forced to leave their home because of conflict, persecution, or fear has a story — a story of perseverance, bravery, and overcoming the odds. Read them. Listen to them. Share them. Help newcomers to your community to reclaim their voice and their story. And spread the word within your social groups about how important it is to support refugees’ struggle and understand their journey. We particularly recommend these three stories about refugees from Somalia, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You can also follow the IRC on their Facebook page for more stories, facts, and ways to get involved.
Item number 6
Advocate, Advocate, Advocate
Think the US should welcome more refugees? You can help this cause along by advocating at the local and national level for pro-refugee legislation. Call your representatives in Washington, sign petitions, and make your voice heard for helping refugees find safe, stable homes so they can get on with their lives. The IRC even has a quick and easy guide for sending a postcard to your representatives with your reasons for supporting refugees. People power works, and we are all for folks making noise for the issues they believe in. So let’s make some noise!