On the eve of our event The Refugee in which Medine Keener and Jacob Guot will be joining us for a conversation and talkback on the global refugee problem, we wanted to highlight some resources that we recommend for better understanding what is going on internationally and nationally (in the case of the United States) as it relates to the refugee problem.
1) UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency
UNHCR (or USA for The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) is a non-profit organization formed in 1950 that envisions a world without refugees. This takes on a lot of meaning but a significant amount is donor support, public education, protection of refugee rights, and working with resettlement organizations (like our local Kentucky Refugee Ministries) to help refugees integrate into new social and economic lives or, in some cases, to help them return home when possible.
UNHCR is the world's leading refugee and displaced persons organization currently in existence. They provide food, shelter, and medical care to those around the world caught up in violence, conflict, or persecution. Check out their website which is chock-full of resources, education, infographics, stats, and more!
2) Facts and Figures About Refugees
Free of charge and adaptable to various learning environments, this page developed by UNHCR is a stand-alone resource of inestimable value. Whether it's a classroom or a study group or just independent learning, this page alone will give you far more information and data than just about any other resource imaginable. Spend thirty minutes here and you'll see what we mean.
3) World Relief
Having partnered with over 5,000 churches and close to 100,000 individuals for support, World Relief is one of the best evangelical and international justice programs out there. Their focus lays beyond working with refugees and steps into international disasters and extreme poverty. The aim of the organization, so to speak, is to ease the burden of those across the world who face hardships beyond the personal ability to resolve. Their focus is specifically working with churches and to help locals (many of which become localized staff) implement programs of relief in their area that are long-lasting and sustainable.
4) Welcoming the Stranger (2nd edition) - Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang
We've blogged about this book before but we cannot say enough. It is simply, hands down, the best lay accessible book addressing both the current refugee situation and the U.S.'s immigration system (and it is from an evangelical lens). The authors are kind, generous, and yet pointed about the problems that are perpetuated both by dysfunctional systems and skewed ideologies.
5) Window on the World - Operation World Resources
Another book that we have blogged about but one that we want to highlight again, especially for the purposes of education and visualization. My kids simply understand the world is larger than what is in front of them because of what they see and what they read. Frankly, adults operate the same way. And this book does both. While its aim is not specifically to discuss the global refugee situation, it is designed to make one aware of what the world looks like -- socially, economically, politically -- if we take a moment to look out of our window.
6) Hotel Rwanda
This may appear to be an odd one on the list, but much of it comes from the same reason for Window on the World. Visualization matters. Stories matter. And while the film is not specifically talking about the refugee situation, it puts into powerful imagery and narrative the sort of conflicts that contribute to the global problems. In fact, it only occurred to me after watching the film recently that the conflicts in Rwanda were indirectly related to the conflicts other refugees have faced in Africa, even more than two decades later. The film serves as a very real, almost tangible reminder, that memory and current world events are often intricately linked. What is saddening to me, however, is the fact that so many people today are even unaware of a Rwandan genocide -- and perhaps of other genocides happening even today. If we don't see it, we often assume it's somehow less present. This movie, however, makes the social and political conflict of that time present in how we look at similar situations today. Watch it!