Christians remembered on World Refugee Day

By June 20, 2007

Jordan (MNN) — The United Nations has designated today, June 20, as World Refugee Day.  Some 40 million people worldwide are already uprooted by violence and persecution, and the situation only appears to be getting worse. 

Today World Vision is calling attention to the plight of the thousands who have been displaced from Iraq. World Vision's Ashley Clements, speaking from Jordan, says the situation is getting worse. "The refugees that are arriving are getting poorer, and those that are here are also getting poorer. It's [getting] longer and longer since the kids have been in school here — some of them up to two or three years. The time is really now when something has to change. Without international support, it's not going to happen."

Clements describes the Iraqi situation alone. "There are over two-million of them spread across the Middle East. It's a huge burden for these countries. Jordan, in particular, has now got the highest ratio of refugees to local population in the world."

There are 750,000 refugees to Jordan's population of just under six million.

Christians and other minorities make up the majority of those fleeing Iraq because they're facing increasing amounts of persecution. "Most of them have no way of defending themselves. Some are pacifists, so they won't defend themselves. So the situation is even more dire."

World Vision released a report today which outlines the problems, especially among refugee children.

Clements says World Vision is providing informal education, trauma counseling, basic medical care and other humanitarian needs.

However, this crisis has given Christians a chance to talk about their faith. "They're very interested in why we're out here. So, we talk about the religious and moral imperative that we feel about working for them. And, they tell us about what they experienced and how vital they see Christianity in Iraq itself."

A simple response won't be enough to this crisis. "It won't be simply a few months worth of care that's needed. This is actually many years worth of financial support to support the host governments in the region preparing for these refugees. So, we really need funds from the international community to help these children go to school, access medications-health care, and resettlement."

 If you'd like to help World Vision with this crisis, click here.

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