Our Approach to Refugee Programming

Photo: ACT/Paul Jeffrey

They flee the blast and battle of Aleppo, seeking safety and security from harm. Another family from Burundi, struggling to cope with street clashes between pro- and anti-government forces, chooses to join a stream of humanity to seek shelter in Tanzania. In Kenya, a family learns just how much they will have to adjust to a new life in the United States after years of waiting and wondering if that new life will ever come. In Jakarta, a 16-year-old sits in waiting two years after his parents placed him in the care of a stranger, who promised a safer life outside of Afghanistan.

The refugees we assist are forced to flee their homes, persecuted for who they are, what they believe, or what color their skin is. In an increasingly uncertain world affected by climate change and natural disaster, even more are being displaced and placed in harm’s way.

There are now more people displaced from their homes than at any point since World War II. More than 60 million people worldwide, a number greater than the combined population of the 100 largest cities in the United States. While much has changed since 1946, when CWS welcomed a refugee family to the United States for the first time, one common cause endures: threats that make even the risks and hardships of life as a refugee a better alternative than remaining in place, and the willingness of others in safe and secure places to help.

We continue to expand the ways in which we serve those displaced from their homes, and those who emigrate to seek a new life. A new office in Pretoria, South Africa enhances refugee support and programs to cover eight countries. Working with the U.S. Department of State, we continue to increase the number of refugee cases in process each year, serving more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees continues to look to CWS in supporting unaccompanied minors who seek shelter in Jakarta.

For the very few refugees allowed entry to the U.S, and for undocumented immigrants who are here and face separation from family or community because of deportation, we continue to work to build welcoming communities. CWS is expanding its local resettlement offices, prompting more meaningful engagements with congregations and communities who will help new arrivals adjust to a new life.

Communities that are welcoming and include refugees in the fabric of daily life are richer in culture and commerce. With nearly 60 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, the need for resettlement and the strong public-private partnership upon which it is built is greater than ever. CWS will continue to provide comprehensive solutions to meet the needs of refugees, whether accompanying them in their journey, ensuring protection from harm and exploitation, helping them to adjust to a new life, or advocating on their behalf for policies that afford them a chance at a better life.