refugee

Prizren, Kosovo. Image via Berat Hoxha [CC BY-SA 3.0] / Wikimedia Commons

Three years ago, Joshua Stanton was walking around Peja, a Balkan city where the skyline is punctured with the dainty minarets of three historic mosques, when he decided to put on his yarmulke.

“I am Jewish,” he thought. “I want to put it on.”

Ulrich Rosenhagen 06-03-2016

Image via REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch - RTX2533D / RNS

While many countries in Europe have sealed their borders to refugees, Germany has done the opposite. Last year, the country registered over 1 million asylum seekers, including 425,000 from ravaged Syria.

No other country in the European Union has accepted as many. For Syrians and others who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea in rubber dinghies, Germany has become a beacon of hope.

the Web Editors 06-01-2016

As of May 25, there had been 1,475 deaths since the beginning of the year. By May 30, that number climbed to 2,443 — 968 deaths in just 5 days.

Some officials are attributing this spike to smugglers taking risks with poorer boats as the weather gets nicer.

Image via Osservatore Romano / Reuters / RNS

Pope Francis is calling on Catholics to play a part in the “rebirth” of a united Europe that opens its doors to refugees.

The Argentine pontiff, who has been critical of European countries’ handling of the migrant crisis, made the comments as he picked up the prestigious Charlemagne Prize. The award, named after the founder of the medieval Holy Roman Empire, is given for work done in the service of European integration.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

A German Catholic leader’s defense of religious freedom has triggered a backlash following anti-Muslim statements by far-right politicians in the country.

Editor-in-Chief Ingo Brueggenjuergen of the Catholic broadcaster Dom Radio, which ran the interview with Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne earlier this week, said in a commentary April 27 that some critics are claiming the cardinal is out to destroy the Catholic Church.

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

A Roman Catholic bishop has challenged Austria’s plans to construct a fence to keep out refugees by refusing to allow the authorities to build on church land and arguing it runs contrary to the pope’s wishes. A fence “would contradict the spirit of the Gospel, Pope Francis’s clear message to Europe, and in particular for a diocese that was in the shadow of the Iron Curtain for decades,” Aegidius Zsifkokvics, the bishop of Eisenstadt, told the AFP news agency.

the Web Editors 04-21-2016

According to the United Nations’ refugee agency, up to 500 refugees may have drowned last week when an overcrowded ship sank, reports CNN. The 41 survivors of “one of the worst tragedies involving refugees and migrants in the last 12 months” are currently being housed at a stadium in Kalamata, Greece.

the Web Editors 04-19-2016
Janossy Gergely / Shutterstock

Refugees wander through Slovenia in 2015. Photo via Janossy Gergely / Shutterstock. 

Tennessee's House of Representatives voted 69 — 25 on April 18 to authorize the state's attorney general to sue the federal government for not consulting with the state on the placement of refugees.

The state similar efforts in Texas and Alabama, but becomes the first state that would sue on the grounds of the 10th amendment, which dictates that all powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government in the Constitution belong to the states.

Riyad with mother Nour. Image via Rosie Scammell / RNS

Three Syrian families flown to Rome by Pope Francis are calling their trip from the battle lines of a five-year civil war to safety in the shadow of the Vatican a “miracle” journey.

The heart of Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, with its picturesque cobbled streets and vine-covered walls, could not be farther from the asylum-seeker camp the Muslim families were living in just three days ago.

the Web Editors 04-05-2016

Image via Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com

Just as Greece has begun deporting refugees to Turkey, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will visit the Greek island of Lesbos.

the Web Editors 04-04-2016

Image via Anjo Kan / Shutterstock.com

In accordance with a new deal between the E.U. and Turkey, Greece has begun deporting refugees to Turkey, reports Al-Jazeera. Meanwhile, according to a report issued by Amnesty International, the Turkish government has been forcing Syrian refugees back to Syria. If this is true, Turkey would be violating international law.

the Web Editors 03-03-2016

Image via CNN Breaking News/Twitter

Migrants are stitching their own lips shut to protest the French government’s clearing of the refugee camp in Calais, known as the "the Jungle." Authorities are clearing the southern half of the camp and relocating the refugees, they say in response to unsanitary conditions. They bulldozed a church and a mosque in the camp on Feb. 1.

Stephen Mattson 02-17-2016

1. In the midst of a historically horrible refugee crisis, why didn’t you actively pursue helping the poor, the destitute, and those in desperate need?

Are followers of Jesus supposed to forsake compassion, sacrifice hospitality, and abandon love in favor of a political policy, national security, financial stability, and personal comfort? God is perfectly clear what the mandate is for helping those in need, and yet Christians continue to remain apathetic, passive, and even aggressively hostile toward the notion of aiding such victims.

The church before being bulldozed. Image via Sean Hawkey/World Council of Church/Sojourners

A church and mosque in France’s “jungle” camp for migrants and refugees have been destroyed, despite authorities’ reportedly promising not to demolish the places of worship. Bulldozers moved into the camp in Calais, the departure point for ferries to Great Britain, on Feb. 1 and tore down the mosque, which reportedly drew up to 300 worshippers each day, and St. Michael’s Church, a makeshift chapel serving mainly Orthodox Ethiopian Christians.

the Web Editors 01-13-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Due to a sudden wave of ICE raids and deportations of asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America, the White House has faced anger from numerous Democrats in Congress, who drafted a letter denouncing the raids. This new refugee plan, which sets up screening facilities in Central America, aims to reduce human smuggling as well to slow the flow of undocumented immigration.

Image via REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/RNS

Pope Francis has called on European leaders not to turn their back on refugees and migrants despite the cultural and security challenges associated with the arrival of 1 million people this past year. Francis has made concern for migrants a centerpiece of his papacy, and on Jan. 11 in his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See he again urged governments to “overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon.”

the Web Editors 01-12-2016

Rob Lawrie with Bahar Ahmadi. Image via Twitter

"I had told her father 'no' many times," Lawrie said in his small suburban-style house in Guiseley, 210 miles (335 kilometers) north of London. "But half past 10 one rainy night, when she fell asleep on my knee as I was leaving for the ferry, I just couldn't leave her there anymore. All rational thought left my head."

Sean Hawkey 01-06-2016

All photos by Sean Hawkey/WCC

The Jungle is an informal camp for refugees in Calais, France. It currently houses nearly 7,000 people who live under tarpaulins and in tents. They are fleeing war-torn areas, economic collapse, and climate change in countries like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Sudan, and Ethiopia. There is no drainage in the camp, so when it rains it is a mudbath, there are a few toilets and standpipes.

The journey to The Jungle camp has been dangerous and exhausting for most of them, and new arrivals have often worn out their shoes walking across Europe, some have lost so much weight they need a new size of clothing when they arrive. People arrive traumatized and afraid.

Roger Nam 12-28-2015

Aside from midnight church services, family reunions, and Ryan Seacrest parties, a significant number of people will celebrate New Year’s Day from the less festive setting of one of the many Syrian refugee camps, in countries like Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, or Iraq. These camps symbolize the narrative of the millions of Syrians who have fled their homeland due to the civil war raging since 2011. Their past is filled with political and financial trauma associated with refugee life. Their future is even more threatening as they struggle to reunite with loved ones, deal with the tragic deaths, and readjust to a new life where their Syrian passports may be their single economic asset. Their future is largely unknown. For these survivors, what is so “happy” about 2016?

Timothy Morgan 12-18-2015
World Vision’s U.S. President Rich Stearns, center, visits with Syrian refugees in Irbid, Jordan. Photo by Jon Warren, courtesy of World Vision

Rejecting fearmongering about the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S., about 100 evangelical leaders are calling on Christians and their churches “to support ministries showing the love of Jesus to the most vulnerable, those in desperate need, and the hurting.”

“Our statement is to change a narrative of fear and instead focus on faith and compassion,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research in Nashville, Tenn. “Our desire is not to resettle everybody in another country. When a house is burning down, we need to put out the fire and rescue people fleeing the fire.”

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