The American people have a long history of responding with compassion to the cry of the poor and oppressed, particularly in times of war, disaster or other calamity. Lutheran World Relief was one of several faith-based organizations founded to serve refugees fleeing the violence of the Second World War and we have worked around the world for over 70 years to alleviate suffering and enable those living in poverty to transition from survival to stability.
Our mission, which is rooted in our faith, compels us to accompany local communities and partners in the places we serve and to help those who are forced to flee their homes as they struggle with the challenges of extreme poverty, natural disaster and war. Today war and conflicts have displaced more people than ever before in history, with 65 million people on the move. Contrary to the popular perception that Europe and the United States are most affected, the UN reports that 86 percent of displaced people are in the poorer developing and middle-income countries less able to handle and absorb the impact. Over half of the global refugee population are children under 18.
It is understandable that with a world in crisis Americans are unsettled and want the government to ensure their security. Unfortunately, the problem is much more complex and our safety will not find itself in simple edicts. Those who would do us harm will find ways around them, while those who are in desperate need of a helping hand will be left to suffer. Americans will feel a loss as we turn our backs on our values and principles. Our light will dim in the world as the standard bearer against injustice and oppression, and we give extremist movements the recruitment gift they are hoping for.
We encourage the Administration to pursue a consultative process to explore alternatives to strengthening our nation’s security without resorting to blanket approaches that ignore our values, international norms, and the humanitarian concerns of those affected. Lutheran World Relief will expand our efforts overseas to work with local partners to do all we can to address the refugee problems at the source, and show the heart and compassion of Americans that we know so well.
President and CEO, Lutheran World Relief