With the war in Syria in its sixth year, there are about 200,000 more Syrian refugees than there were 12 months ago.

How to help refugees around Atlanta and beyond

Every day, 44,400 people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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“We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record,” the agency’s official website states.

On June 20, the world commemorates World Refugee Day in honor of their perseverance. The holiday is the brainchild of the UNCHR, which launched the #WithRefugees petition in June 2016 to urge governments to work together and do their part to help.

About the world’s refugees

According to the agency, approximately 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced as of June 19, 2018, 25.4 million of whom are considered refugees. More than half of the 25.4 million refugees are under age 18. And about 3 million of the globally displaced population are asylum seekers and another 10 million are stateless people, individuals who have been denied a nationality and access to education, healthcare, freedom and other basic rights.

Turkey, Uganda, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran are the top refugee-hosting countries.

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While the United States has historically led the way with global refugee resettlement, in January 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning entry to individuals from countries deemed high-risk, including some of the world’s largest producers of refugees, from entering the U.S.

State department data shows the country only accepted 5,225 refugees as of April 2018, a 65.8 percent drop from the first three months of 2016.

It’s on track to resettle just 20,000 this fiscal year—less than half of the all-time-low ceiling of 45,000 set by the administration last September.

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Since 2016, the U.S. has only accepted 11 Syrian refugees. The Syrian conflict has produced more refugees — 13 million — than any other conflict. It is currently in its seventh year of war.

“In the midst of the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II, the US is on pace to resettle roughly 21,000 refugees in 2018. According to State Department data, which measures in fiscal years (October to September), that would be the lowest since 1977,” GlobalCitizen.com reported.

How to help refugees in Atlanta

Volunteer opportunities

Friends of Refugees, a Clarkston-based Christian Community Development Organization aimed at empowering refugees through employment, education and well-being, offers volunteer orientations twice a month, usually the second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and on the last Tuesday of the month from 6-8:30 p.m. Learn more at friendsofrefugees.com. Opportunities include:

  • Volunteer at summer camps or after-school programs
  • Help teach English
  • Participate in the labor doula program
  • Cook meals
  • Create handcrafted items via the Refugee Sewing Society
  • Help refugees launch businesses through the StartME business accelerator

Volunteer instructions at friendsofrefugees.com.

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The International Rescue Committee in Atlanta works with government bodies, local volunteers and civil society actors to help refugees “translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities.” Opportunities include:

  • Help youth and young adults prepare for standardized tests like the GED and SAT
  • Teach English to refugees in an ESOL program
  • Pick up and deliver large donations via the donations coordinator and logistics department
  • Help non-native English speakers understand U.S. civics
  • Assist with women’s literacy classes (financial, medical, housing, employment) geared toward newly-arrived women and their families
  • Child care
  • Tutor refugee and American students in grades 9-12
  • Teach computer literacy to students
  • Participate in a professional mentorship program

Volunteer instructions at rescue.org.

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New American Pathways in Atlanta ensures that refugees can contribute their skills to “strengthen the American workforce and help Georgia thrive.” The organization offers several dates and times of orientations for interested volunteers. Opportunities include:

  • Join the PathDriver fundraiser campaign to raise money for critical funding
  • Teach English at refugee homes 
  • One-on-one tutoring
  • Family tutoring
  • Help refugees prepare for the citizenship exam

Volunteer instructions at newamericanpathways.org.

Catholic Charities Atlanta helps local refugees achieve economic and social self-sufficiency within their first six months in the country.Opportunities include: 

  • Teach English
  • Tutor
  • Assist with grant writing
  • Volunteer at events
  • Sort donations
  • Mentor a refugee family
  • Spanish to English translator
  • Group volunteering with Hands on Atlanta

Volunteer instructions at catholicharitiesatlanta.org.

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World Relief Atlanta helps refugees rebuild their lives through resettlement services, employment services and immigrant legal services. Volunteers are required to join orientation beforehand. Opportunities include:

  • Assist staff in gathering donations and fundraising
  • Greet and welcome incoming refugees and families at airport
  • Help with transportation to medical appointments
  • Assist with grocery shopping
  • Teach them how to navigate public transit
  • Teach English
  • Be a cultural or community guide to help refugees learn about their new home

Volunteer instructions at worldreliefatlanta.org.


Make monetary donations

Make non-cash donations

  • Friends of Refugees: stock, vehicles and land. Email donate@friendsofrefugees.com or call 678-404-0278 for more information.
  • International Rescue Committee Atlanta: Clothing (men’s small, men’s shoes); winter coats (small, medium); household and kitchen items; toiletries; towels and linens; non-perishable food; strollers; backpacks; school supplies; sofas; love seats; armchairs; dining tables and dining chairs. Contact Duncan de la Feld at duncan.delafeld@rescue.org or 678-636-8928 for more information.
  • World Relief Atlanta: Vehicles; couches; kitchen tables and chairs; coffee tables; dressers; dinnerware; blankets; sponges. cleanser; toothpaste and tissue paper. Contact John Arnold at jarnold@wr.org or 404-294-4352 for more information.

Support refugee businesses or businesses employing local refugees.

Have more ways to help local refugees? Let us know in the comments.

Learn more about refugees at unrefugees.org.

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