The Child Refugee Experience
UNICEF recently released a powerful short film in which two former child refugees, one from World War II and the other a young Syrian, tell their stories. The similarities are remarkable. Both had to watch as their communities were attacked and neighbors died, both endured danger as they journeyed to a new, safer place far from home.
As UNICEF reminds readers in their press release about the film, "children now make up more than half of the world's refugees" even though they represent only a third of the world's population. And in 2015 "about 45% of all child refugees came from just two countries--Syria and Afghanistan."
While poverty isn't necessarily a contributing factor in any family's decision to flee their homes, it soon becomes a fact of life as they navigate often treacherous journeys in search of a new, safe place to settle. I recently read A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee's Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival, by Melissa Fleming, a senior advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Fleming takes readers into the life of Doaa, a young woman forced to flee her home in Daraa, Syria. Her journey is moving and heartbreaking--and, unfortunately, not unique.
As I wrote in an earlier post, I have been (until a recent stoke has sidelined me for awhile) volunteering with refugee families in my city. I've been touched by their stories--and horrified at what their children have witnessed and experienced. Jesus was a refugee--and the Bible clearly instructs that we are care for them. Remember when you hear the stories of refugees that they are fathers, mothers, grandmothers, children--families like us.