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UMCOR Refugees/Immigration

| About Refugees/Immigration | Basics | UMCOR Partners |

Through UMCOR's Refugees/Immigration programs, congregations that reach out to refugees and immigrants in a spirit of welcome and sharing find their own lives enriched and their understanding of the world broadened. They gain a deeper insight into the biblical command, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2).

Since 1940, UMCOR's mission - providing relief in disaster areas, aiding refugees and confronting the challenge of world hunger and poverty - has helped to heal the hurts of humanity in nearly 100 countries.

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Internally displaced Liberians return home... boy has a puppy.

Liberian internally displaced people return home. Credit: Charles Pitchford ACT/LWF

The Basics

Please support the United Methodist Committee on Relief's Global Refugee Response Advance #982540. It enables UMCOR Refugee Ministries to respond to emergency requests from projects that are not otherwise funded through the Advance. The One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering undergirds UMCOR's ongoing work. Your donations may be sent through a local United Methodist church, Annual Conference or by mailing the check directly to: UMCOR, Room #330, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115. For credit-card donations, call 1-800-554-8583.

*About UMCOR
*Justice for Our Neighbors: A GBGM Immigration Response.
*Refugees/Immigrants Resources and Stories.
*Refugees Packet: Lots of information and helps
*Vignettes of Refugee Families Helped by United Methodists: UMCOR Church Bulletin Insert.
*World Refugee Day Resources(June 20)
*World Refugee Day 2005: Two UMCOR Church Bulletin Inserts.

The Plight of Displaced People

The plight of people driven from their homelands by violence, oppression, and natural disaster presents a compelling challenge to United Methodists. Deeply concerned about this human suffering, UMCOR serves the church as its agency of refugee service.

After World War II, many people expected the flow of refugees to subside. Yet half a century later, the flight is not only continuing but growing. The United Nations estimates the current number of refugees at 20 million or more, and an even larger number of people are displaced within their own countries.

Persistent political conflicts can keep people in refugee status for generations. For example, UMCOR has been assisting Palestinian refugees since the first Israeli-Arab war of 1948. In addition, new outbreaks of violence keep forcing people to flee. To aid the refugees from Rwanda (along with refugees and displaced people from earlier conflicts elsewhere in Africa), the bishops have launched a churchwide Appeal and Campaign for Africa.

When faced with a refugee emergency, UMCOR immediately provides food, shelter, medicine, and other essentials for survival. It then begins to address the long-term needs of refugees in the places where they have settled and to plan for their return home when that becomes possible. In recent years, UMCOR has been able to help with repatriation of refugees from such countries as El Salvador, Guatemala, Liberia, and Mozambique.

In some cases, a small percentage of the total number of refugees will be permanently resettled in another country. To assist refugees who get U.S. government approval for settlement in the United States, UMCOR works through the National Council of the Churches of Christ (NCCC), Church World Service (CWS), and local ecumenical agencies in the CWS network. In cooperation with CWS and through some independent efforts, UMCOR also helps those refugees who come to the United States without prior government approval and then apply for asylum.

Local churches play a crucial role in resettlement. Sometimes one church will take full responsibility for a family, but churches unable to make this kind of commitment can also help by supplying one or two of the many refugee needs: food for an initial period, housing, furniture, help with job hunting, language instruction, and other basics.

A fundamental service that church members can always offer is personal friendship. Local churches can also work in the community to develop attitudes helpful to the refugee population.

Cubans, Vietnamese, Eastern Europeans, and other groups have come into the forefront of resettlement efforts at various times. UMCOR has worked persistently over many years to serve Haitian refugees and seek fairer treatment for them. It has also resettled refugees from dozens of other countries, year in and year out, with little public recognition.

Also of Interest

*Action by Churches Together
Action by Churches Together (ACT) is a worldwide network of Churches and their related agencies meeting human need through co-ordinated emergency response and common identity. The ACT network is organizationally based in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) and is a co-ordinating rather than operational office.
*Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program
Born in the aftermath of World War II, today Church World Service is 33 Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox communions in the U.S., cooperating worldwide in programs of long-term development, emergency response, and assistance to refugees.
*The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (in English and French)
Basic information about UNHCR and refugees ordinary people who have left their homes to escape war, persecution and human rights abuse.


                  Banner Photos: Paul Jeffrey/ACT International