World events like drought, famine, and increased severe weather are displacing more and more people around the globe.According to the Pew Research Center, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in the sixth largest outflow of refugees over the past sixty years. Over 100 million people are currently displaced. Many people are looking for ways to help the victims. In honor of United Nations World Refugee Day, Homeland Security Today found 5 ways to help these populations now.
The top ways to assist include: offering housing or sponsoring families through a government immigration program, volunteering, advocating for refugees, providing or assisting with legal representation, and protecting refugees from predators.
- Housing Refugees
Housing is one of the first and primary needs for those fleeing their county. Opening your home to refugees is a hands-on and personal way to help. If hosting in your home long-term is not feasible, you can also sign up to provide temporary housing through Airbnb. If you are a landlord, you can also lease to refugees with help of organizations like the International Rescue Committee. Additionally, two college students from Harvard created a website for people to register their ability to house Ukrainian refugees and can be matched directly with people looking for shelter. Here are organizations with which you can volunteer to help with housing:
The International Rescue Committee helps people affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives.
Ukraine Take Shelter was created for people in the United States to offer housing to refugees from Ukraine.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service reunite children and parents and provide vital assistance to asylum seekers mainly by resettling refugees and providing vital necessities.
Whether abroad or at home, volunteers are vital to aid refugees. Volunteers of all types are needed: across the globe skilled volunteers like doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, and even social media influencers can help aid refugees. From providing medical care to building temporary shelters, all type of skills are needed. Those without a specialty are also needed and can assist with everything from unloading shipments of aid to staffing the resource and refugee centers, taking care of administrative responsibilities, and delivering aid to different refugee centers. In addition to searching the internet for “volunteer opportunities to help refugees”, here are a few organizations that provide both domestic and international opportunities to volunteer:
The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees safeguards the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee and provides volunteer opportunities at UN headquarters and across the globe.
Catholic Charities provide legal representation, and offer volunteer opportunities in many capacities including mentoring newly arrived families, refugee services, migrant shelter assistance and much more.
International Rescue Committee provides opportunities domestically to assist refugees coming to the U.S. – their website lists numerous opportunities and internships for volunteers.
Indigo Volunteers is a charity that recruits volunteers and connects them with humanitarian projects working in the European refugee crisis.
Social media and mass demonstrations are another way to be an instrument of support. Being politically active to spread information on these crises keeps refugee needs in the forefront, encourages donations and engagement, and puts pressure on governments to assist more. There are numerous sites on Meta, TikTok, and online to follow to learn about activities in your locality or country. HSToday’s aid for Ukraine is on TikTok @tourniquets4ukraine and a search of social media will reveal many more. Here are organizations that help with refugee advocacy:
Refugee International has become a globally focused advocacy organization to serve as a leading voice for the rights of displaced people worldwide since its establishment in 1979.
Refugee Council USA advocates in the U.S. and around the world for the protection, welcome, rights, and durable solutions for refugees. The “Get Involved” tab of the Refugee Council USA website provides opportunities to advocate for refugees to your national and local policymakers, as well as additional ways to support refugees.
Save the Children Advocacy Network through a combination of government relations, communications and grassroots activism, Save the Children builds relationships with policymakers and mobilizes the public to protect children.
4. Legal Representation
Resettlement for refugees in the U.S. or many other places in the rest of the world is often complicated and involves tremendous paperwork. Refugees often need legal assistance to execute all the requirements and protect their rights. Those with legal expertise can help with the legal processes or volunteer to be court watchers to ensure that refugees receive a fair trial. If you do not have legal expertise, you can also help by contributing to immigration bonds. Immigration bonds are the amount of money needed to release refugees and asylum seekers from detention with the promise that they will continue to appear at their immigration hearings. By helping refugees go out on bond, refugees can build a strong defense case against deportation.
The U.S. Committee For Refugees and Immigrants offer professional legal representation to low-income refugees in matters including naturalization, asylum, work authorization, and temporary protected status, among others.
The Refugee And Immigrant Center for Education And Legal Services (RAICES) promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.
- Protecting the Safety and Security of Refugees
World Refugee Day’s theme this year is the “right to seek safety.” People displaced by war face uncertainty, risk, and tremendous danger. Unfortunately predators understand their vulnerability and leverage it to traffic women and children, trap refugees into forced labor or modern slavery. Often they pose as humanitarians simply wanting to help, government officials with promises of state-sanctioned relief, or even as members of non-profit organizations poised to help. For more information on refugees and trafficking, HSToday interviewed the non-profit Lantern Rescue to discuss how predators trap their victims and what is most needed in refugee crisis situations. Numerous organizations work to protect vulnerable populations, here we mentions a few:
Lantern Rescue travels internationally to nine different countries including Ukraine to train units with the express purpose of aiding these units in discovering and rescuing victims of Human Trafficking.
Save the Children works with Ukrainian Refugees to provide healthcare, education, and protection to refugees in need
Global Protection Cluster: An Introductory Guide to Anti-Trafficking Action in Displacement Contexts is a guide for organizations working with refugees and vulnerable populations to understand how traffickers operate, provide definitions of phenomenon, and examples for awareness and prevention.
Many have seen the saying “We are all Ukraine” – on this World Refugee Day we see that at any time we could be refugees. We encourage everyone to do what they can to alleviate the suffering and displacement experienced by todays’ victims.
HSToday interns Christian Fisco, Daniel Ripley, and Zoe Del Rosario contributed to this piece.