Three Things Donors Can Do to Support Refugees

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.According to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, 65 million individuals have been displaced by war, terrorism and persecution, and every day, 34,000 people are forced to leave their homes for these reasons. Less than 1 percent of the world’s refugees are ever resettled.

Khassim Diagne, UNHCR Regional Representative for the U.S. and the Caribbean, and Anne-Marie Grey, CEO of USA for UNHCR, recently visited Kansas City to share this information with a group of Community Foundation donors to help them understand the landscape of this issue and what they can do to help. Here are three things donors who are interested in supporting refugees can do now:

  • Support national and local refugee agencies. Ninety percent of UNHCR’s staff work in the field, delivering lifesaving assistance (shelter, food and water, medical care) in conflict zones across the globe. This work is vital to refugees in camps, where the average stay is at least 15 years. When possible, UNHCR will help refugees return safely to their homes. If that’s not an option, UNHCR refers the most vulnerable to host countries for resettlement. The Kansas City area is home to three UNHCR agencies who help with this: Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, Della Lamb Community Services and Jewish Vocational Services (JVS). Hilary Cohen Singer, Executive Director at JVS, joined the UNHCR representatives on the panel. Hilary explained how JVS works with refugees who have been resettled in Kansas City to help them become self-sufficient, telling stories of families from Syria, Burma and Sudan. Families usually arrive with only the clothes on their back, and government assistance is minimal. JVS and other agencies rely on the generosity of donors to help support these families beyond their first three months in the U.S., with donations of time, money and household items.
  • Talk about the issue. Become an advocate for refugees and the agencies supporting them. Learn about organizations supporting refugees and share your knowledge with those who might not understand the crisis:
  • Welcome refugees to your community. Make a personal connection with a resettled family to truly understand their experiences. You can help refugees adjust to life in your community by inviting them to gatherings with your family, friends and colleagues. Not only is this beneficial for refugees, but it is also an enriching experience for you.

Community Foundation Communications Director Leanne Breiby


Authored by: Leanne Breiby, Director of Communications