As Canadians observe World Refugee Day today, Winnipeg-based Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) is reflecting on its 70 years of refugee support. The organization was founded in 1946 to help resettle refugees from post-war Europe. In its first six years of operation it helped more than 33,000 people start a new life in Canada.
Currently, CLWR either directly or through affiliated organizations works with almost 70,000 refugees and displaced persons in camps and settlements in the Middle East and Africa. Last year it helped Canadian groups welcome more than 500 people to Canada from Syria and other world hot-spots.
"Our mandate for helping refugees is deep in our history and in our Christian Lutheran heritage," noted Robert Granke, CLWR's executive director since 2006. "With a mission statement that directs us to challenge the causes and respond to the consequences of human suffering and poverty, our work with refugees puts action to our words."
This past winter CLWR's office personnel along with national staff of its two church partners, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Lutheran Church-Canada, sponsored a Syrian refugee family which has settled in Winnipeg. The organization is currently processing more than 700 requests from Canadian churches and community groups to resettle additional refugees.
"World Refugee Day will focus attention for one day on the needs of the world's 60 million displaced persons and those living in refugee camps, but we know, 70 years after bringing our first refugee family from Germany to Canada, the need is ongoing as long as there are conflicted areas and people are in danger," Granke explained.
For World Refugee Day 2016 CLWR has joined Canada's Humanitarian Coalition that includes 14 similar organizations to raise awareness and donations for refugees. To support CLWR's refugee programs go to www.clwr.org/WRD.