Middle East

10,000 Syrian Refugees Headed for the United States

World Relief says US churches are ready to assist refugees after Obama approves major increase for 2016.
10,000 Syrian Refugees Headed for the United States
Image: Sean Sheridan for World Relief
Syrian refugees being assisted by World Relief in Jordan.

Ten thousand Syrian refugees will be coming to America over the next year.

And churches will be ready to welcome them with open arms, says Stephan Bauman, president of World Relief, an evangelical agency active in refugee resettlement

“Whether it’s hosting refugees in our own country, or supporting churches serving them in other countries, the American church has chosen to act,” said Bauman.

Bauman and other Christian leaders also called on the US to resettle another 100,000 refugees from other nations.

“While the US government continues to admit refugees, the annual intake has declined significantly from 1980, when the country accepted and, with the help of churches, schools, and community organizations, integrated more than 200,000 refugees. In the current fiscal year, the US is on track to accept about 70,000 refugees,” he said.

Bauman’s comments came after President Obama announced that during the US will resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees during the next fiscal year. That anouncement marks a major shift in US policy—since the civil war begin in Syria four years ago, the US has resettled 1,600 Syrians out of the 4 million who have fled the nation.

There are 10 nonprofit agencies, many of them church-based, involved in resettling refugees in the US. The US government provides financial support for those refugees.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that worldwide there are 50 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people. The UN agency has provided the names of 18,000 Syrian refugees to the US for potential resettlement. Due to extensive security checks, it takes 18 to 24 months for a refugee to gain US clearance.

The Washington Postnoted:

So far, the United States has lagged far behind several European countries in its refugee aid efforts, largely due to the time-consuming screening procedure to block Islamist militants and criminals from entering the United States under the guise of being legitimate refugees.

In the meantime, refugees in Europe faced enormous difficulty entering host nations.

At Budapest’s Keleti Rail Station, Hungarian Christians are helping to care for thousands of Middle-Eastern and African refugees waiting to board trains bound for Austria and Germany.

On September 2, volunteer church members with Hungarian Reformed Church Aid started distributing emergency food, water, and hygiene supplies as the flood of new arrivals grew larger every day.

On September 9, chaos ensued when 500 refugees struggled with police and each other for a few hundred spots on passenger cars heading for Austria. A Voice of America video captured the gritty reality at Keleti as hundreds of refugee families set up camp along concrete platforms. On September 15, Hungary will implement a new law requiring that new arrivals stay in a transit zone during their application for asylum in the European Union.

Germany has agreed to resettle 800,000 refugees; Iceland, 10,000. But in Lebanon, Christian leaders estimate that 1 in 4 persons is a refugee.

“Lebanon has the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world,” said Ali Abboud, a director with Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development.

“Their situation in Lebanon continues to deteriorate with the decline of [food] support since December 2014. . . . We count on your prayer support as we continue to stand by and reflect the practical love of Christ to vulnerable Syrian families in their hour of need.”

Christianity Today has covered refugee resettlement in the past, including:

Franklin Graham’s Call to End Muslim Immigration Could Backfire | More churches only want to work with Christian refugees. But limits on Muslims could hurt Mideast Christians too. (July 24, 2015)

The Town that Loves Refugees | Christians in Utica, New York are resettling the world one displaced soul at a time. (February 15, 2007)

Homeland Security’s Catch-22 for Exiles | 'Ridiculous' interpretation of law bars thousands. (May 1, 2006)

Before the Refugee Dam Breaks | Agencies prepare to help up to 900,000 people in Iraq War. (May 1, 2003)

Relief Agencies Prepare to Help Iraqi Refugees | Meanwhile, Christians in Baghdad fear the worst. (March 1, 2003)

Other church-based resources include:

A Christian Response to the Mideast Crisis

Refugee Highway Partnership

The Other Is My Neighbor


July/August
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