For Immediate Release
December 15, 2016
AVSI-USA Communications and Outreach Manager, Roberta Alves
AVSI-USA launches campaign to help Syrian refugees in Middle East, Europe and in the U.S.
Washington DC | Persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations have formed a ‘nation of the displaced’ that, if they were a country, would make up the 24th largest in the world. Each day the number of refugees grows. To support those who flee, even if only for a portion of their journey, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI-USA) is launching the campaign “Refugees and Us: We are all on the same road”.
We propose to meet people at the beginning of the path, enabling them to stay in their home country if not in their village of origin. For those already on the road, AVSI-USA seeks to serve the basic needs of refugees in transitional settings like reception centers and camps and to enable them to live with dignity despite uncertainty. At the end of the journey, AVSI-USA will work with others to meet refugees in our cities and to help them to integrate and rebuild their life and futures.
AVSI-USA acts in order to reduce the gap between official refugees assistance and the actual needs of refugees who are struggling to integrate themselves into their new home. AVSI has already supported approximately 50,000 Syrian refugees. Our 2015-2016 campaign “Refugees and us: we are all on the same road” aims to help 20,000 families of Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq as well in Italy and in the U.S., facilitating access to education and improving the families’ autonomy through opportunities for work.
Individual, families and friends are encouraged to contribute with a financial gift and/or to organize events in support to the campaign.
Syria: “To Survive in Aleppo”
Custody of the Holy Land Reception Center in Aleppo. Located inside the Parish of St. Francis, in the district of Azizieh it welcomes over 200 refugees per day
The city is bombarded every day and has neither water nor electricity. About 80% of Aleppo’s population is unemployed and living on the breadline. In the last four years, 250,000 people were killed in Syria. Persecuted by groups of terrorists, the vast majority of Christians have fled. In response to this humanitarian emergency, AVSI supports the Custody of the Holy Land activities coordinated by the Association Pro Terra Sancta. AVSI’s priority is currently to sustain the Custody of the Holy Land Reception Center in Aleppo. Located inside the Parish of St. Francis in the district of Azizieh, it welcomes over 200 refugees per day. There families find shelter, a place to sleep and eat, and are given clothes, medicine, and most importantly a welcoming and peaceful place to stay. Friars work on rebuilding the houses, providing psychological assistance, and energizing the parish life and activities. “We assist those in need”, says Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, “We don’t make distinctions of race and religion, this is the core of our mission in Syria. Please, help us to stay in Syria”.
Iraq: “Start Over in Erbil”
The Baby Jesus House, a nursery school run by a group of Dominican sisters, which receives daily 130 children and is located in Ozal City
Today, 250,000 refugees live in Erbil. In 2014, AVSI helped a group of Dominican sisters to open a kindergarten, The Baby Jesus House, which receives daily 130 children and is located in Ozal City. 1,200 families live in this community: more than 900 are Christian, while some are Yazidis and others are Muslims. All of them fled from ISIS violence in other parts of Iraq. The kindergarten has four classrooms with 30 children each. In each classroom, there are two teachers, who themselves also had to flee when their own villages were attacked by ISIS. Supporting the Baby Jesus House means allowing these families to recover at least a little bit of “normality” in a situation deeply marked by uncertainty and discomfort.
Lebanon: “A New Home”
Education and employment opportunities for Syrian refugees in cities of southern Lebanon, promoting harmony and integration
Today, Lebanon has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and more arrive every day. The “foreign” presence in Lebanon represents at least a fourth or possibly even more of the current Lebanese population, a serious challenge for a country where the political balance is already unstable. In these refugee camps, it becomes fundamental to promote the human dignity of each of person currently living in no man’s land. AVSI acts in order to reduce the gap between official assistance and the actual needs of refugees who are struggling to integrate themselves into their new home. AVSI has already supported approximately 50,000 Syrian and 34,600 Iraqi refugees. Our campaign “Refugees and us: we are all on the same road” aims to help 750 families of Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, facilitating access to education and improving the families’ autonomy through opportunities for work.
United States: “Starting Over”
Comprehensive resettlement support for refugees in US cities, together with the USCCB and their Office for Migration and Refugee Services
In addition to the thousands of immigrants arriving each year from countries around the world, the United States is expected to receive up to 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. Many immigrants and refugees struggle with transitioning to American life. For many, they leave behind stressful environments and enter into unknown circumstances. Initial needs for these newcomers vary from temporary housing, food, clothing, language skills, employment, medical needs, and orientation to a new culture. In partnership with its affiliates, USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) office resettles approximately 26% of the refugees that arrive in the US each year through a network that includes over 75 diocesan offices across the country. AVSI-USA has agreed to partner with MRS in meeting the needs of refugee families by identifying the gaps between public funding and the full range of necessities. Our efforts will be directed towards support for education and employment.