Will there be room this Christmas?
This Christmas, over 65 million people have no safe place to call home. Violence, poverty, persecution and war have driven numbers up to almost unimaginable levels '“ nearly one in every 100 people in the world is now a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.
Twenty-four people every minute flee for safety. Instability and ongoing violence in countries such as South Sudan, DRC, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nigeria has resulted in a huge scale movement of vulnerable people.
The war in Syria which is nearing its six year anniversary, has led to more than five million people seeking refuge.
Although the media tends to focus on people arriving in Europe, it is overwhelming poorer countries like Lebanon (where nearly one in four of the population is a refugee), Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia and Pakistan which are providing refuge for most of the world’s displaced people. We see the tip of a very large iceberg.
Not since World War Two, have we seen such figures. It is tempting to pull the ones you love close, close the doors and count your blessings, but behind every statistic is a story waiting for someone to listen. Behind every number is another human being and we have a choice – will we reach out in welcome or walk away?
This year’s Christian Aid Christmas Appeal hopes to raise vital funds, enabling us to continue to provide critical support to some of the millions worldwide who have been forced to leave their homes through fear and uncertainty in the worst global displacement crisis of our time. We offer hope in hard places and dignity where there is despair.
Across Scotland, churches and communities have come together, not only to support Christian Aid’s appeal but also to sign and send a giant Christmas card to Theresa May, calling on her to take action to support the millions of people fleeing conflict and violence this Christmas.
The four-foot Christmas card also urges the Prime Minister to welcome refugees, not only through the implementation of UK Government policy, but also through the language she and her government choose to use.
Working with refugees and displaced people is nothing new for Christian Aid, which was founded 70 years ago to support refugees in the wake of the Second World War, and continues to support those searching for safety today.
There are heart breaking stories of survival and inspiring stories of resilience. Georgette’s story is just one.
Living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an area of great ongoing conflict, she was captured by armed men and taken from her village, held captive and sexually assaulted for days. Eventually she escaped, fleeing for her life but unable to return home.
Struggling to cope with the horrific events she endured, she was given support by our partner, Sarcaf, to rebuild her life, receive psychological support and start a small business. She was reunited with her children and is now able to afford to send them to school.
There is hope and transformation is taking place.
Conflicts across the world have driven millions of ordinary people from their homes, many risking their lives to give their families a more secure life in a safer place.
This Christmas, there are tangible ways we can help; call for welcome, not walls, ask that compassion leads us to common ground.
Do not let the numbers numb your commitment to our global neighbours.