Why Help Unaccompanied Refugee Children & Youth?
In 2015 and 2016 more than 170,000 refugee children and youth arrived in Europe alone (aka unaccompanied refugee minors). Many traveled across the continent in attempts to reach the U.K., Germany and Nordic countries. Some have been held in the country they arrived in, others became stuck in transit due to border closings and a lack of coordination between countries to provide care and community or to reunify these children with family. In most cases, these youth have been without family for months or even years, are living in squalid conditions, are preyed upon by traffickers, smugglers and radical extremists, and exist in a state of limbo – not knowing how or when they will be welcomed into a caring, safe community or reunited with family.
This is an opportunity – and, more so, a call – for the Church to provide the covering of Christ through both actions and words.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt 19:14)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matt 18:1-5)