Hundreds of thousands of refugees desperate to start new lives in the West have rapidly streamed through Europe this year, overwhelming certain nations along their path. It is the largest crisis of its kind in the region since the Second World War.
Why are the refugees coming into Europe? Where are they from?
A large percentage of the most recent refugees are from Syria. In Syria, a more than four-year-old civil war between President Bashar al-Assad and various insurgent groups, including the Islamic State, has resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people and displaced millions. Other refugees are escaping violence in the nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, and Kosovo. More than 500,000 refugees have arrived in Europe by sea this year. The majority of them are simply seeking the education and opportunities that Europe provides.
What is Samaritan’s Purse doing on the ground?
Samaritan’s Purse has staff in Greece and Croatia working in Jesus’ Name to provide relief to vulnerable people. In Greece, we are meeting refugees at the shore as they arrive by sea—offering food and water. We are also providing food to refugees in Athens. In Croatia, we have set up large hand-washing stations at a transit camp to address hygiene issues. We are also providing backpacks to women and children, each filled with food, hygiene items, a poncho, and more. In Macedonia, our church partners also continue to hand out women’s and children’s backpacks. We are also meeting needs for basic necessities through Christian partners in Serbia and Hungary.
Are most of the refugees men? If so, why?
The majority of refugees are young men. It is more difficult for women, children, and the elderly to travel such long distances. Travel over sea (from Turkey to Greece or from North Africa to various European destinations) is incredibly dangerous and thousands of lives have been lost. Children are especially vulnerable. Samaritan’s Purse relief efforts are often focused on helping the women and children who attempt the perilous journey.
Are people refusing food or other items?
Samaritan’s Purse staff report that refugees are in a rush to move on, but they are thankful for the assistance we have provided. Many are simply trying to get through to the next destination and are grateful for any help that they receive.
How can Christians pray?
Please pray for the safety of the refugees and that they will see the light of the Gospel through our efforts. Pray for the work of our staff, volunteers, and church partners. Especially, pray for peace in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.