According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, humanity is facing its largest displacement crisis on record. Violence, persecution and regional instability have caused more than 65 million people to abandon their homes and seek refuge in other lands. These numbers are devastating, and they leave citizens of stable countries wondering what they can do as individuals in helping refugees worldwide.
The White House website states that the U.S. has been active alongside many countries offering sanctuary and assistance to refugees, providing shelter, medical care, and basic services “But the need remains great. Helping refugees isn’t just up to governments — every American can play a role, too.”
Here are three simple ways Americans can begin helping refugees worldwide:
- Make a donation.
The U.N. Refugee Agency states that every donation it receives goes toward worldwide field operations. Currently, the organization is making an urgent appeal for donations that will go toward the crisis in Iraq. Fighting in Mosul and Northern Iraq has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. The website lists what each amount of money will accomplish. As little as $50 will provide five people with sleeping mats and keep them off the ground at night; $200 will provide emergency shelter for two whole families.The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is another organization that, for every dollar donated, spends 90 cents on programs and services that directly benefit refugees. This organization consistently receives high marks from charity watchdog organizations. When making a donation, research where the money will go. Decide what organization is doing an effective job in helping refugees; information about their finances should be available on their website.
One might wonder how to support refugees on an ongoing basis. The IRC, for example, encourages monthly donations as a Rescue Partner. This steady support allows them to, “respond swiftly and effectively when conflict strikes, to rescue lives in the midst of chaos and to help fragile communities rebuild and move toward a more stable future.”
One individual is only able to give so much financially. Another option to help refugees is to become a fundraising partner. By mobilizing others in the surrounding community, one person can have an even greater impact than would have been possible with a single wallet.The organization Help Refugees will launch its “Choose Love” campaign this month, a series of events designed to encourage empathy, promote awareness and expand the organization’s reach on the frontlines of this crisis. Help Refugees encourages people to raise money with t-shirts, bake sales, events and more.
- Keep asking questions.
The displacement of 65 million people is devastating, but lives can be saved through the collaborative efforts of millions of individuals willing to help. By simply asking the question ‘What can I do to help refugees?’, you are the beginning of the solution.
Continue searching for organizations fighting against silence in the face of tragedy. Have open conversations with people seeking to discover new ideas and viewpoints concerning how to help refugees.
Help Refugees says, “As a brutal winter approach, we need you now more than ever. This is still a crisis, but we are not powerless.”
– Rebecca Causey