“By reason of their intensity and magnitude, the refugee problems of the twentieth century outrange the forced migrations of bygone ages. It is the most serious human element in the troubles of our time.”
Little did Rev Henry Carter realise that his statement, made in 1947, would be so poignant – if not prophetic. Henry Carter was commenting on the aftermath of the Second World War. He saw the problem of displaced people – of families and children rejected from their homes and countries. They had nowhere to live. So he responded and established the Methodist Refugee Fund to raise money and provoke action to provide care, support and practical compassion. Seven decades later, Rev Carter’s legacy resides within All We Can: Methodist relief and development, which is a direct descendent of the Methodist Refugee Fund.
While the number of deaths and casualties brought about by the Syrian civil war are not on the same scale as the 60 million who died in the Second World War, the impact is still huge. Today, on average, almost one out of every four refugees in the world is Syrian, with 95 percent located in surrounding countries. Meanwhile, this five year conflict continues – with no end in sight. Henry Carter saw in 1947 the needs of refugees, and particularly the vulnerable. All We Can sees this need too, today. This is why we are supporting work in some of the most difficult places, and with the most vulnerable, such as mothers and their children. What of this generation? What of their future? The youth have lost years of their lives. The younger ones know the inside of a tent as home, or unsuitable housing as their refuge. All have suffered trauma. All are our neighbours. Even if the war stopped tomorrow, the tragedy will continue for decades.
Migration and the displacement of people groups is an age old issue. Most countries, including those within the UK, cannot claim to be made of a single race – let alone a unified culture or class living in peaceful harmony. Somehow we need to learn to live with the fact that immigration is happening and will continue to do so. So we need to determine what we are going to do about this problem, because it is not going to go away. Our mandate at All We Can is to respond to local situations by supporting local people to provide local solutions. This is what we have been doing for 75 years. And this is what we are doing now in Jordan. For the last three years, All We Can has been responding to the needs of refugees and their host communities in Jordan, through experienced international and local humanitarian response partners. We have a particular focus on providing opportunities for refugees to not only survive, but to have access to resources and activities that help restore dignity, resilience and hope in extremely challenging circumstances.
I recently spent time in Jordan with All We Can’s partners, and was stuck by just how welcoming Jordanians were to me on my visit. But more importantly, they were welcoming to refugees. ‘This is your home now’ was their attitude. Jordan has a long history of welcoming the foreigner and stranger into their land. Many Jordanians live in difficult circumstances themselves, but this has not stopped them from reaching out with a helping hand. Whether a person has a religious faith or not, the Bible provides some compelling advice and instruction as to how we should treat and care for refugees. Deuteronomy 10, Leviticus 19 and Exodus 23 all set out a mandate for practical compassion well before the UN or EU developed their treaties. The Bible is simple and timeless: Who can argue with the charge provided in the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10? Show mercy. Love your neighbour. Go and do likewise.
Find out more by downloading our new resource ‘Refugees: “To all the people we can”’