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Christians urged to pray for refugees

The number of displaced people around the world has risen to more than 45.2 million people and is increasing by the second. It's being described as the most serious refugee crisis in almost twenty years. Last year 7.6 million people fled their homes for the first time - the equivalent of one person every 4.1 seconds. Conflicts in areas such as Syria are one of the main causes of the problem with over 1.1 million people leaving that country as fighting continues, heading to refugee camps in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Hundreds of thousands of others have been made homeless but have remained in Syria.

Mervyn Thomas is the Chief Executive of anti-persecution charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide. He tells Premier prayer is needed:

Other war-torn countries such as Somalia, Sudan, and Iraq top a list of where people flee. Afghanistan has for the past 32 years held the top spot. One in every four of the world's refugees is an Afghan.

On Thursday, the United Nations encouraged people around the world to mark World Refugee Day and remember all those who become displaced. Of the total number who've been forced to leave their home 46% are children. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, has blogged on the issue and wrote about the work churches are doing to help.

He said:

"Providing sanctuary to the stranger has always been a core Christian value. Every day churches around the world care for people who have been forced into becoming 'strangers'. 

"They offer a welcome to people who have been robbed of their homes, their societies and their cultures."

This Sunday, the World Evangelical Alliance is encouraging churches around the world to pray.

Tom Albinson, Ambassador for Refugees, Displaced and Stateless People said:

"Not only has God given us a mandate to love the alien as we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:34), but the world around us is watching and hoping that we will step up to assist refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people."

Many Christians often become refugees because of their faith. They're forced to flee their homes fearing attacks from extremists and often the authorities. It's common in places such as North Korea and Eritrea.

Stuart Windsor is a Special Ambassador for Christian Solidarity Worldwide. Speaking on Voice for the Voiceless he tells Premier's Dave Rose of the situation facing Eritrean believers.

Churches are being invited to use resources in their services this weekend.

They can be found at

And you can hear Voice for the Voiceless in full at 11.30am on Saturday.

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