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Europe's refugee crisis

Focus on the need, not the numbers

The media of late has been full of stories of desperate people arriving in Europe, with the press focus largely concentrating on the growing numbers, rather than the conflict, injustice and oppression from which many are escaping.

The public debate which has accompanied such graphic depictions of human need is evidence of how uncomfortable the scenes have made us feel as a nation. But in truth, the reaction of many in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe has been far from sympathetic.

Macedonia refugees

Refugees in Macedonia close to the border with Greece.

De-humanising language

The language frequently used to describe those seeking entry to European countries, particularly the numbers stranded in Calais as they try to reach the UK, has been deplorable, both derogatory and de-humanising.

Each year millions of people globally are forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict and disaster. Most remain displaced within their own countries, but millions of others must cross borders to reach safety, the majority even then remaining in the developing world, hosted by some of the poorest countries in the world. 

What we do

It is not a new phenomenon - Christian Aid was founded 70 years ago to assist refugees and the displaced in Europe following the Second World War.

Today we support those affected by war and violence in numerous countries, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia, providing practical assistance through local organisations embedded in their communities.

Through their aid budgets, the UK, Ireland and other governments are also contributing significantly to help refugees and the displaced in various parts of the world.

But the need to address the root causes of refugee flows and the migration of the desperate - conflict, inequality and the impacts of climate change, to name but three – has never been greater.

Many of our local partners are working to tackle violence, build peace and improve governance in the communities where they are based. We support them too in campaigning for justice in areas such as climate change and tax abuse, which exacerbate poverty and  require political will to tackle.

While the main focus of our work is in developing countries, we recognise this is not the whole picture, and stand in solidarity with churches and others providing practical support for refugees and migrants in the UK and Ireland. 

Act Alliance

In Europe, we work with partners in the ACT Alliance and other agencies to support practical and political action to help those fleeing, and address the longer term issues.

We urge governments to play a full and constructive role in efforts to find safe routes, and provide adequate support for refugees world-wide. And we appeal to them to meet fully their own international, legal obligations to all those affected, respecting their universal rights and demonstrating care and compassion rather than just being driven by alarmist headlines at home. 

How you can help

Donate nowDonors wishing to support refugee relief in Europe can donate to Christian Aid to support work by our ACT Alliance partners.

Those specifically wishing to support work in Calais might wish to contact Caritas France (Secours Catholique).

Our partners

Act Alliance partners working on the crisis include, in Greece, the organisation International Orthodox Christian Charities which is providing food and non-food items, and  improving conditions at reception centres, as well as undertaking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities on the islands of Chios, Samos, and Kos. Between 1-24 August, 300 refugees arrived on Chios each day; 500 refugees arrived on Samos each day and 1,300 refugees arrived on Lesvos each day.

In Hungary, Hungarian Interchurch Aid is providing refugees on the border with non-food items, and has to date helped more than 5,500 people.

In Serbia, Philanthropy, the charitable foundation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, is providing food, hygiene and baby kits, shelter and sanitary containers, plus winterisation supplies (firewood, clothes and boots), and psychosocial support. It is helping an estimated 1,000 refugees a day.


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Europe's refugee crisis

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