The following report is from Baptist World Alliance: Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has distributed more than US$65,000 in emergency refugee support in Europe in the month of September. In addition to Germany, Hungary, Sweden and other European nations, Baptists in Serbia and Croatia are providing aid to some of the thousands of refugees that are pouring into these countries.
Dane Vidovic, general secretary of the Union of Baptist Churches in Serbia, clarified that refugee assistance has been given by Serbian Baptists over the past three years “because refugees from those countries are passing through Serbia all that time.” However, the situation has intensified over the past several months as refugees “are coming in hundreds and thousands. The situation became desperate, and we have intensified our involvement.” He said church members have volunteered and congregations are distributing food, water and other needs.
30,000 refugees have entered Croatia, alone, reported Zeljko Mraz, general secretary of the Croatian Baptist Union. Mraz said the government has built a refugee camp with a capacity for 4,000 persons and the Baptist union received government permission to offer support to those inside the camp. “We want to be Christ’s witnesses to our countrymen and foreigners passing through our country,” Mraz explained.
The 2015 European migrant crisis arose through the increasing number of refugees and migrants traveling to the European Union across the Mediterranean Sea or Southeast Europe. A majority of the refugees are from the Middle East, such as Syria, Yemen, and Iraq; and Africa, such as Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan.
Baptists in the Middle East are also extending assistance to refugees and other displaced persons in the region. The BWA has provided significantly large sums in relief in the region over the past several years.
“The needs both in Syria and in Lebanon are staggering and the situation gets more complex by the day,” said Alia Abboud, director of Development and Partner Relations for the Baptist-affiliated Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development.
Lebanese Baptists offer monthly sustenance to more than 2,000 Syrian families and 400 Iraqi families in Lebanon, nearly 6,000 families in Syria and more than 140 families inside Iraq. Support includes food distribution and health care, as well as vocational training and education for 300 Syrian refugee children. Special workshops are also held for women. “Again and again, we are witnessing God’s hand at work both within our partner churches in Lebanon and in Syria, and through them,” Abboud said.
Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org/give or www.baptistworldaid.org.au or marked in envelopes in offering bowls on Sundays.