Poverty and Syrian Migrants

Amira* looks worried. It’s not hard to understand why. Her family fled Syria, and they are now living at a refugee center in Amman, Jordan. Her husband has heart problems and high blood pressure. One of her sons has experienced mental health challenges, and another son has a disability.

Amira’s family receives food vouchers and rent assistance, but it’s not enough.

“I tried to get more money,” Amira says. “It’s difficult. I need many, many things but I’m not able to get them.”

Just last month, Amira was diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor told her not to worry, but with the number of stresses she faces, that’s nearly impossible.

“I’m very afraid of this disease,” she says.

The struggles of Syrian refugees like Amira do not end once they reach a new country. They often arrive with few or no possessions. International assistance provides refugees with basic needs like food, shelter and legal help. Without it, many are left on the streets with no resources.

Too often, refugee families are torn apart. That’s what happened to 74-year-old Salwaa, living in Jordan with one of her sons. Two other sons live in Brazil, and five of her children remain in Syria.

“It’s hard because they are my children,” Salwaa says. “No one leaves their children by choice.”

Hundreds of thousands of refugees like Salwaa are forced to make difficult choices every day: Keep their families together or split up to search for safer places? Purchase food or get their prescriptions? Pay school fees or buy clothes for their children? No one should have to make these impossible choices.

Pope Francis says, “We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”

As Catholics, we are called to welcome the stranger. We are all part of one human family, so we must work for the common good. One way to do that is to assist our brothers and sisters in need.

We live in a nation with abundant resources, with the ability to help people like Amira, Salwaa and Amona, whose story follows, to rebuild their lives in ways that respect their human dignity.

Amona moved to Jordan from Aleppo, Syria, in 2013, after her house was destroyed. Through CRS’ partner Caritas Jordan, she received food vouchers and rent assistance. With Caritas’ support, she also enrolled in sewing courses, and supports her family by selling her creations.

“I like to work in sewing,” Amona says. “I feel like it’s an art. It makes me feel content with myself.”

Refugees are fleeing violence, war and inhumane conditions. They want what’s best for their families, just like us. The support provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and CRS honors their human dignity.

Just 1% of the U.S. budget goes to international assistance, but the president is proposing drastic cuts to this vital support. To protect assistance for people like Amira, Salwaa, Amona and their families, please join USCCB and CRS in calling or emailing your representatives. Tell them how 1% does a world of good.

*Name has been changed