Refugees: Facts & Resources

From a devastating war in Ukraine to an ongoing war in Syria to floods in Pakistan to floods and famine in South Sudan, our world is more than ever in need of understanding and responding to refugees and displaced people.

The scale of the global refugee crisis is unprecedented. As of the end of 2021, over 82 million people were displaced worldwide. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that close to 27 million of those displaced are considered refugees. Two-thirds of these refugees are from five countries, which include three countries with systematic, ongoing, and egregious persecution of various religious communities: Afghanistan, Burma, and Syria. An additional 4.1 million of these 82 million individuals fled persecution and are seeking asylum. With 86 percent of the world’s refugees hosted in developing countries, host countries often struggle to provide adequate resources to support refugee populations. During 2022, the number of individuals displaced continues to soar, particularly with the increasing numbers of individuals fleeing conflict in Ukraine. [Source: UNHCR]

Fact Sheet on Refugees fleeing religious persecution.

We all think it will never happen to us, but the reality is that we don’t know. Paying attention, giving as we can, offering the sanctuary of a meal or a hygiene kit – it may be small, but small adds up. I’ve updated this section on refugees to include facts, as well as some more recent resources. Please look through them and learn more about the ongoing needs of refugees and displaced people.

Fact 1: Refugees have fled persecution or war

In order to officially be considered a refugee, a person must have suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, because they are part of a persecuted social group, or because they’re fleeing war. Those people who claim to be refugees, but whose cases haven’t been fully evaluated may instead be defined as “asylum seekers.”

Fact 2: Refugees have crossed an international border

There are lots of people who are forced to leave their home because of persecution or war. But not all of them are considered refugees. People who have fled their home, but stayed within their own country are considered “internally displaced,” or “internally displaced persons” (IDPs). According the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the end of 2019, there were some 45.9 million internally displaced persons in the world. [source]

Fact 3: UNHCR began in response to World War II, with the intent of disbanding shortly after

The UNHCR was formed in 1950 to help the 40 million refugees across Europe. [source] The organization had the intention of closing within a few years but have continued their missions as new needs have arisen.

Fact 4: Almost half of all refugees are children

Many of these children may spend their entire life away from home. And these children are far more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or other types of violence. [source]

FACT 5: Churches have housed refugees for centuries

While the term sanctuary has its roots in sacred spaces (the Latin word sanctuarium refers to a place for holy things or holy people), the first Council of Orléans, in 511 AD, established the right of sanctuary, decreeing that people can find refuge from persecution in churches. [source]

FACT 6: Refugee communities are particularly vulnerable during emergencies like pandemics and natural disasters

Many of the world’s refugees live in overcrowded camps where food, access to water, sanitation and health services are scarce, not to mention the fact that social distancing can be near impossible. Disasters like the coronavirus pandemic pose a particular threat to families living as refugees.*

[Source for facts:

Office of resettlement

I thought it would be helpful to compile resources here for those of you who are looking to know more about resettlement and how the refugee process works. The resources are a mixture of those found in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

Refugee Information:


How to Help: 

Note: I purposely did not put in the typical large organizations, namely because I think it’s easier to know where your money goes with the smaller organizations. I can absolutely vouch for the low overhead of these organizations as well as seeing in person the work that is being done with refugees.

Helpful Articles: 

Why You Should Care: 

In closing, I want to say this: there’s an acronym in social media “smdh.” It stands for “shaking my damn head.” As I see the reaction to refugees by fellow Christians as evidenced by statements by Christian leaders, I am literally shaking my damn head. I don’t get it.  We have made refugees the scapegoats for egregious, condemnable acts of violenceSo I issue three challenges:

Our God knows no national boundaries or citizenship. He is present in tragedy, and he hears our ‘whys’.

A Call to Pray

A Call to Pray: “In the midst of tragedy, I am called to pray. Called to pray to a God who hears and loves, a God who is present in tragedy and accepts our “why’s”, a God who knows no national boundaries or citizenship, a God who took on our human pain and suffering when he ‘willingly endured the cross’.”*

A Call to Walk Away from Fear: I’m going to repeat what I have said publicly many times: Don’t make safety an idol. Choose to walk away from fear. Choose to love as you are loved; choose to offer your heart and your resources to those in need.

A Call to Love: Governments may do their thing, they may close their doors; as a Christian, I don’t have that option.  Period.

 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6: 26-31

For all posts on refugees click here! 

*[from In the Midst of Tragedy, A Call to Pray.]