The news has been filled lately with news about the refugee crisis in Syria. Our own Moderator has contributed to this news. There are many people wondering what we can do – within and outside the church. Here are some suggestions:
General Council has recently put out a list of three ways to contribute to the Syrian crisis: pray, donate to humanitarian relief and sponsor refugees. One other way I can think of to contribute is to contact your local electoral candidates and talk to them about their party’s policy on refugees. You may want to use the United Church of Canada’s Federal Election Kit (see page 25). The Canadian refugee system is currently under resourced and limits the amount of private sponsorships that can be made.
It is difficult currently to sponsor Syrian refugees because of the bureaucracy of the process and lack of civil servants working the cases. As soon as a Syrian family is available they are sponsored by one of the many organizations in Canada which are involved in private sponsorships. The best way to sponsor a Syrian family is to be in contact with Syrian families in Canada who wish to bring their families here. If you have contacts with the Syrian or Muslim communities in your neighbourhood that might be a good place to start.
Otherwise refugee sponsorship is always very important and I would encourage your churches to engage in this process with families from other regions that are in turmoil. Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese families to name just a few are also drowning in the Mediterranean and are in dire need. However the refugee sponsorship process is a long one and a sponsored family may not be landed in Canada for years. Contact our Refugee Program Advisor Khwaka Kukubo at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
That being said, the humanitarian need in the Syrian refugee crisis is great. Lebanon for example is the home for literally millions of displaced Syrians and its resources are sorely taxed. Making monetary donations to the United Church aid organizations (especially with the pledge from the Canadian government to match aid dollars) would be a good response.
Some places that offer more information on the Syrian refugee crisis include: