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The Global Refugee Crisis

Posted: February 24, 2017

Globally, there are an unprecedented number of refugees. The world is experiencing one of the largest mass relocations of people recorded. The UN High Council on Refugees estimates that there are, “21.3 million refugees with over half under the age of 18.”1 It is estimated that, “4 million people have fled Syria since 2011.”2 The UN High Council on Refugees has stated that, “53% of the refugees came from three countries including: Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria.”3

The wars in Syria and Afghanistan have created millions of refugees that have fled to neighboring countries and Europe. The refugee situation in Somalia is due to decades of war and environmental damage. Organizations like the United Nations are increasingly observing that people are fleeing because their local communities are not capable of providing sustainability in agricultural societies. On-going armed conflicts in many regions have prevented people from planting crops, using sustainable farming methods or building societies that can sustain their people. Environmental damage, drought and famine are also contributing to this expanding global crisis.

Some of the key challenges with this many people relocating are: Building safe shelters with clean drinking water, adequate food, sanitation, health and education. It is also essential to create jobs, so that families can become self-sufficient and support themselves.

These are overwhelming, complex issues without easy answers. Challenges on this scale require a global response. The world has responded generously, but the needs continue to expand. The United Nations, along with NGO’s, continues to work to meet the needs of refugees worldwide. The Catholic Church is one of the churches working to help refugees and to reduce suffering. The Catholic Church operates Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and travels to over six continents to bring hope, relief, clean water, sanitation, seeds, and education.4 It partners with local Catholic Churches and leaders to create programs that work and to build capacity within the communities.

This year, St. Patrick’s will offer Operation Rice Bowl to support this global outreach that helps so many refugees around the globe. Catholic values are the cornerstone of this work. The Catholic Church believes that each person is, “sacred” and, “born in the image and likeness of God.” We believe in the dignity of each person and are called to work globally to build peace and justice.

We encourage you to give something up during the 40 days of Lent and contribute that amount to Operation Rice Bowl! Small amounts of money can make a big impact! Your donation buys seeds for farmers, provides microloans to small businesses, provides clean drinking water and many other relief efforts! Thank you for your generosity in providing hope and love through Operation Rice Bowl!

1United Nations High Commission on Refugees, January 6, 2017,
4Catholic Relief Services, February, 2107,

--Maura Schnorbach