Displaying items by tag: Refugees
Last week 560 men, women, and children who were on paid flights and ready to evacuate were blocked at the last minute and had to return home. However, over 200 of these persecuted Christians cannot go home. They have nothing but the clothes on their backs and are in imminent danger. Just when things seemed hopeless, God provided a new temporary housing option. Please pray for God to clear the way for these flights to take off and provide safe places of refuge outside Afghanistan. Pray for encouragement for those who were sent home; may the Holy Spirit move in their hearts and remind them they are seen by our Lord. Pray for protection for those who will remain inside Afghanistan, continued provision for their daily needs, and a clear plan for long-term ministry and support.
Colombia is home to two million Venezuelan refugees who fled economic and political crises and now face adapting to and integrating into a foreign culture. But instead of finding support, they often find themselves isolated and discriminated against. Churches across Colombia have been reaching out to these refugees, letting them know they are not alone. Tearfund and local partners have been equipping churches to set up trauma healing groups, which have supported hundreds of women. It was at her local church’s healing group that Julia finally found acceptance, community, and healing. ‘It is the first support that I found here in Colombia for migrants like us. When I arrived at the church I found the peace that I previously did not have. I saw that it was like my family. I arrive and they hug me, I leave and they hug me. It really has made me think about changing my life.’
The Italian coastguard rescued 539 migrants crammed onto a decrepit fishing boat off the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa. A Médecins Sans Frontières nurse said the passengers included three women and several unaccompanied minors in the dangerously packed boat which would have travelled about 300 kilometres from the Libyan coast to Lampedusa. At least twenty of the migrants who were examined by medical personnel had scars from torture. ‘They had burn wounds, firearms wounds. They were very worn down, some were dehydrated.’ Local reports suggest some of them had been falsely imprisoned in Libya. Italian prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what may have happened. The nurse said she didn’t know how long the fishing boat had been at sea, but they had spent weeks or even months in Libya awaiting passage in traffickers’ boats in hopes of reaching Europe.
Shortly after UK armed forces minister James Heappey had warned of an imminent terror attack, and had called on those queuing outside Kabul airport to move to safety, two explosions rocked the area on 26 August, leaving a number of casualties and throwing evacuation efforts into more turmoil, days before President Joe Biden's deadline for the USA to leave the country. At least 13 people including children were killed and many others were injured in what Taliban sources described as a suicide attack. Defence secretary Ben Wallace said a ‘better option’ for fleeing Afghans would be to travel across the land border. Christian charity CARE said that the current situation in Afghanistan is a recipe for a human trafficking disaster. Afghan women, fearful of life under new political leadership and aware of attacks on their rights, will want to escape oppression and may, in desperation, turn to illegal means of leaving the country. Many who are promised a better life will end up falling into modern slavery, whether that means commercial sexual exploitation, forced labour, or domestic servitude. See
The Belgian government is under pressure to offer residence permits to hundreds of undocumented migrants who have been on hunger strike in Brussel’s Béguinage church and university buildings for sixty days and are in a life and death situation. Alarm grows because some are now refusing water. Four men stitched their lips together last month to press their case for legal access to the jobs market and social services. Two UN officials urged the government to offer temporary residence permits to the 476 hunger strikers. 150,000 sans papiers live in Belgium, according to the campaign group ‘We Are Belgium Too’, which is calling for the regularisation of undocumented migrants. Many have been in Belgium for five or ten years. Belgium’s minister for asylum and migration refused a blanket amnesty to undocumented workers. The deputy prime minister and other Socialist ministers threatened to quit the government if any hunger strikers died. It is becoming a political snowball.
On 27 March security forces killed over fifty protesters who defied a warning that they could be shot ‘in the head and back’ if they came out while the country's generals celebrated Armed Forces Day. ‘Today is a day of shame for the armed forces,’ said Dr Sasa, a spokesman for the anti-junta group of deposed lawmakers. Local media reported that around 3,000 people from Karen state have left the country and crossed the border into Thailand to escape the violence. Airstrikes that sent villagers fleeing into the jungle show the Myanmar situation is ‘much worse’, a humanitarian worker said. At least 114 people were killed by security forces on 29 March, including a five-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl. Despite the bloodshed, protesters returned to the streets. Citizens are living amid increasing violence. People are being beaten and shot; now they face multiple airstrikes. Myanmar has not had airstrikes there for over twenty years.
Home is a place where everyone can flourish: somewhere we can belong, feel safe, and grow. Millions of people, forced to flee their homes because of years of conflict, are having to raise their families in cramped conditions in refugee camps, lacking the basic essentials. Life is a struggle to survive. Pray for people like Tamam who used to live a quiet and comfortable life in Northern Syria, with her loving husband and children. Then IS occupied the area; no electricity or running water, crops and animals died. Her husband was killed, and they joined around 1 million Syrians living in makeshift settlements in the middle of a slum in Lebanon. Pray for the mission agencies bringing relief in dangerous situations, and for the network of churches attempting to support displaced people.
Bosnia is a transit country for migrants trying to get to the EU, but the border is currently closed. This has left thousands of migrants stranded like Salman and his brothers, sleeping rough in abandoned buildings, makeshift tents and even in old freight wagons. Winter temperatures are way below zero. Some of Salman’s fellow-travellers developed mental health problems on their journey from Pakistan to Bosnia. Middle-class families save thousands of euros to send their sons to Europe. They have been stranded for 18 months, with no way forward, no way back, crushed by the guilt of having failed their families back home. They have tried several times to cross the Bosnian-Croatian border, without success. The local authorities refuse to open a migrant camp in the region. NGOs have stepped in to offer them a place to get warm. Many are economic migrants from Pakistan or North Africa.
Recently, the situation in Hong Kong has changed dramatically. There is great fear that things are not going to settle down or be anywhere like they used to be. On 6 January, over 1,000 police officers raided 73 different locations across the city, arresting 53 politicians, pro-democracy leaders, human rights activists, and others. Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last governor, says that what is happening in the city is nothing short of China's brutal destruction of a free society. The government and the police use many different means to persecute pastors and others. Reports estimate that over 300,000 plan to flee Hong Kong in the coming months. Several pastors have already left, while others have gone underground. The UK will introduce a new visa at the end of January which will give 5.4 million Hong Kong residents the right to come and live in the UK, and eventually become citizens. See
In Cabo Delgado, most Internally Displaced People (IDPs) have lost access to their basic livelihoods due to years of conflict. Neighbouring areas that were previously classified as ‘stressed’ now face ‘crisis’ situations due to a rapid increase in IDPs. Conflict and even more IDPs has made many areas inaccessible for those distributing humanitarian aid. They are in ‘crisis’ situations. Some of the most affected families who have lost their homes and livelihoods face difficulty escaping to safe areas, and will face even worsening famine. Families in drought areas are consuming wild foods due to low income and exhausted food stocks. Unfortunately, poorly distributed rainfall through December limited planting in southern Mozambique. Please pray that food security will begin to improve in April 2021 with the start of the harvest. Pray also for the poorest households recovering from Cyclone Idai but contending with worsening economic shock due to Covid-19.