Mormons in Europe, supported by church headquarters in the United States, are stepping up their aid to refugees fleeing to Europe.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – the official name for the “Mormons” – has been providing aid to refugees in the Middle East for more than a decade, providing hundreds of thousands of blankets, clothes, emergency medical supplies, food, and other resources to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.
Elder Patrick Kearon, who along with his two counselors, oversees half a million members of the Church in Europe, said in response to the crisis in Europe the Church has made an additional commitment of €4.6 million (US $5 million) to immediately help displaced families, with more to come.
"We continue to be moved, like so many others, by the stories and images of those struggling for basic necessities of food, water, and temporary shelter,” he said. “They have lost so much."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will direct some of the funds to established non-governmental Agencies (NGOs) including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, UNICEF, Catholic Charities, International Medical Corps, and Physicians for Human Rights. Other funds will be channeled through local municipalities and national government agencies involved in assisting refugees.
“The Church has helped, and will continue to help those who remain displaced and homeless in conflict zones or in neighboring countries where they have fled,” said Sharon Eubank, the director of the Church’s Humanitarian Services.
Since 1985, the Church has provided relief and development projects for humanitarian purposes without regard to the nationality or religion of the recipients.Together with so many others across Europe, individual Mormon congregations are also responding to the invitation to assist in the refugee crisis, Elder Kearon said.
In Scotland, more than 2,000 people have joined forces to send clothing, blankets, and other needed supplies to those fleeing across borders. Coordinated by the Dumfries and Galloway Refugee Action charity group, Latter-day Saints joined with others by dropping off much needed supplies to a local Mormon church, one of 30 local collection sites.
In Germany, several Munich congregations joined together to assist a local refugee shelter by constructing an interior wall, sorting donated clothing, and by providing 170 packages of hygiene products, cereal bars, drawing utensils and cuddly toys. The Darmstadt congregation is cooperating with several local charities throughout the year to help facilitate donations of clothing, furniture and other goods to refugees.
In Huddersfield, England, Church members are part of a major community-wide effort to gather clothing, sort, stack and pack it for shipment.