5 things you can do to help refugees & asylum seekers

NEWS | Tess Holgate
Monday 7 September 2015

If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent this morning poring over the latest news about the refugee crisis across the Middle East and Europe. Tears have likely crept into your eyes hearing devastating stories like Aylan Kurdi’s, or stories of incredible generosity like this one out of Iceland, or this one, where the Pope himself says St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Anne’s will each welcome at least one refugee family.

It’s easy to feel helpless. But you need not collapse into a heap of misery – there are some things you CAN do. Here are 5 ideas:

1. Support Christian leaders calling for Australia to do more

There are other people out there who share your outrage.

Did you know that the Anglican Church in Australia is pleading with the government to “allow another 10,000 refugees from Syria into Australia before Christmas”? They’ve said to the government, “our Churches would want to cooperate with our Government to facilitate the settlement of these refugees as best we are able.” Would you cooperate with this? Write to your MP and tell them. (If you don’t know who your MP is, you can find out here.)

NSW Premier Mike Baird challenged the Prime Minister to do more to help Syrian refugees, saying on his Facebook page, “Stopping the boats can’t be where this ends. It is surely where humanitarianism begins.” Send him a message of support.

2. Support asylum seekers/refugees in Australia

There are actually lots of asylum seekers living in the community under what the government calls “community detention”. This means asylum seekers are allowed to live in the community but are usually not allowed to work or study, and have no access to Medicare. In 2013 the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre reported that their weekly allowance was $171, which had to cover food, transport and utilities.

There are many organisations helping out with the daily needs of asylum seekers and refugees, but they need your help. Simple Love helps provide much needed groceries to asylum seekers living in the community. Enough Room is helping Aussies open up their homes to give asylum seekers places to sleep. The Welcome Centre provides support to asylum seekers, refugees and new arrivals through English classes, volunteer & work experience opportunities, emergency relief and friendship. What could you do?

3. Participate

Did you see Aylan Kurdi’s photo plastered across all major news sites last week? Did you read the stories of Germany and Austria opening their arms (and borders) to welcome thousands of Syrian refugees who’d been stranded at Budapest train station?

In a conflict like this, the situation can change very quickly. It’s good for us to read and stay informed about the devastating stories (and also the good ones) surrounding this international migration crisis. Lots of people use social media as their main source of news, so read and share. You’ll be helping your friends be informed.

There are also plenty of online campaigns going around calling on the government to make room for Syrian refugees in Australia. This one, by change.org is just one example.

4. Pray

Prayer is certainly the most powerful thing you can do. Bible Society is only one of many aid agencies working in the region to provide much needed food, water, hygiene materials and Scriptures to Iraqi Christian refugees. They need your prayers.

  • Pray for Christians forced from their homes under threat of death.
  • Pray that God would provide for the needs of those who have left everything behind.
  • Pray for safety for the Bible Society workers as they reach families in desperate need.
  • Pray that aid would be faithfully delivered to those who need it.
  • Pray boldly for an end to conflict in the region, knowing that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

5. Give to Christians working on the ground in Syria/Iraq

Open Doors is supporting 9,000 families with food, healthcare, and is continuing its pre-war work of bible distribution and theological training for pastors. World Vision is establishing or improving access to clean water, sanitation and health care, and distributing food and winter essentials. Caritas Australia supports programs in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon that provide food, essential non-food items, medical and psychosocial services (including mother and child health), and legal assistance. Save the Children is providing nutritious food for Syrian kids, supporting education in Syrian refugee camps and much more.

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