In conjunction with World Refugee Day on Tuesday, an interfaith group of Fort Wayne organizations and religious congregations will gather Monday in support of refugees. Catholic Charities, the organization resettling the most refugees in northeast Indiana, also will hold an open house Tuesday highlighting the people and cultures it has helped relocate here in the past 20 years.
World Refugee Day recognizes the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of people who have been forced to flee their homes and countries because of violence and other problems, the United Nations said on its website, www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday.
The local interfaith group plans to present a public statement voicing support for refugees at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Trinity English Lutheran Church, 450 W. Washington Blvd.
The Catholic Charities celebration, which is open to the public, will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday in the lower-level garden room at the Archbishop Noll Center, 915 S. Clinton St. Public parking is available in the attached parking garage. People attending can enjoy food, crafts and music from the many refugee cultural groups now living in Fort Wayne.
Last year, Catholic Charities resettled 289 refugees just arriving in the United States, a majority of whom were from Myanmar, which formerly was known as Burma, the agency reported. Staff helped 255 refugees find jobs and also worked with refugees who initially settled in another U.S. city and later moved to Fort Wayne.
Catholic Charities also provides refugees with other help, such as extended case-management services and homework help for children attending school.
In addition to the local efforts supporting refugees, the United Nations also started the #WithRefugees Campaign petition last year to give people an opportunity to express support for refugees and to encourage governments to help refugees.
As of Sunday, more than 1.5 million people had pledged their support of the petition, which asks governments to make sure every refugee child receives an education, refugee families have a safe place to live and refugees can work or learn new skills so they can contribute to the community, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office reports on its website, www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us.
By the numbers
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports the following statistics:
* 65.3 million people worldwide have been forced to leave their homes, an unprecedented number.
* About 33,970 people per day worldwide are forced to flee their homes because of conflict or persecution.
* Nearly 21.3 million people worldwide are refugees, about half of whom are ages 17 and younger.
* 10 million people worldwide are considered "stateless" because they have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.