As Pope Francis prepares to visit the U.S., Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has announced it will respond to the Holy Father’s call for support for migrants in Europe by helping Caritas Germany in resettling Syrian refugees and other migrants who have entered Germany in recent months. CRS’ support will help provide accommodations, job assistance, early integration activities and volunteer training. This builds on CRS’ work to assist Syrian refugees in the Middle East – Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt – as well as in other parts of Europe such as Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Albania.
“The actions of our sister agencies in Germany are testament to the commitment of Catholics worldwide to assist those who need our help the most,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Vice President of US Operations at CRS. “It is our privilege to support our partners in answering Pope Francis’ call on faith communities throughout Europe to welcome and provide shelter to those fleeing violence and despair.”
Dozens of dioceses across Germany, along with thousands of volunteers, are working to provide critical assistance to thousands of refugees that have arrived in the country over the past several months. Most of the refugee families coming to Europe have made treacherous sea and land journeys — crossing the Mediterranean and traveling through several countries – to reach the European Union. Germany has pledged to take in up to 800,000 asylum seekers this year.
With the huge influx overwhelming many municipalities and government authorities, stretching resources to the limit, Caritas Germany and its local agencies have stepped in to provide critical services. Those include accommodations, medical services, legal counseling, translation services and language classes, job assistance and support for unaccompanied minors. Caritas is supporting the efforts of many towns that have started campaigns to promote peaceful existence.
“It has been inspiring to see so many in the U.S. asking how they can help and do more,” Rosenhauer says. “We are inviting them to join us in a holistic response to the crisis that includes critical assistance to thousands of refugees throughout Europe. And we take great comfort in knowing that our Caritas partners and their many volunteers are working tirelessly to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.”
CRS is working with Caritas partners in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania to provide temporary shelter, food and water, hygiene materials, medical care, and translation and legal services. CRS will adapt its response in the Balkans based on refugees’ movement across Europe. For example, we will start working with our partners in Croatia as more refugees are forced to find alternate routes. For more than four years, CRS has worked to assist more than 600,000 war-affected Syrians, including refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
CRS is calling on the United States to continue and expand humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and to lead a serious international, diplomatic efforts to end the fighting in Syria now and find solutions to the conflict. Additionally, the U.S. should accept significantly more Syrian refugees, especially the most vulnerable who under no circumstances will be able to return home.
To donate online, visit donate.crs.org/migrantcrisis
By mail: Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21297-0303
In the memo line, write “Migrant Crisis”
By phone: 1-877-435-7277
Copyright 2015 Catholic Relief Services.
All photos by Kira Horvath for CRS. Used by permission. All rights reserved.