PITTSBURGH, PA

Frequently asked questions about aiding refugees

Monday, April 17, 2017 - Updated: 10:00 am

Ed Wethli and Jennifer Allison often get pushback from listeners when they share their story. Some of the most common questions — and their responses — include:

Why do you/Why should we help Muslims halfway around the world?

As Christians, we have a duty to care for all suffering people. Allison said: “A lot of people in the U.S. don’t realize there are Christians living in Syria. They make up about 10 percent of the Syrian population. Their ancestors are the people who founded the early church — the descendants of early Christians. Christians in Syria are being persecuted and tortured for their faith, today, in 2017.”

Wethli: “When I was 9, my family was camping and we met a Hungarian Jewish mother and her two adult children. They had numbers tattooed on their arms; they were all survivors of Auschwitz.

“I asked them how something like that could happen. The son said they had kind neighbors, but no one in their village would step up and raise their voice in protest. That stayed with me. I’m not going to be the one who didn’t step up and do something to help.”

Why do the Syrians have to leave their own country?

Allison: “Many people outside the country do not understand the reality of daily life in Syria. Bombing and sniper fire are constant in neighborhoods where civilians live. A lot of people — both Christian and Muslim — are trapped, with no safe path out of Syria. People live in constant fear because their family members and neighbors are being shot or kidnapped.

“There is no ‘good side’ for Christians to join among the warring parties in Syria’s civil war. Many of the factions are recruiting fighters and forcing men to fight for them; Christians tend to be sent to the most dangerous jobs, although (and perhaps because) they don’t want to fight. ISIL will torture and murder them. The only option for their survival in Syria is peace.”

Wethli: “Christians are being killed for being Christians in Syria. So are many Muslims. We hear horror stories. ISIS came in and rounded up one member of every family — including Muslims — and beheaded them in the public square. They told everyone to leave or they would experience the same fate.”

Why are you sending refugees to Canada instead of Lebanon or another country in the Middle East?

Catholic Relief Services has reported: “According to the United Nations refugee agency, 2.5 million refugees are in Turkey, while Jordan, Iran, Lebanon and Pakistan combined have another 4.3 million displaced people living in those countries. In Lebanon, one out of three people is a Syrian refugee. Though these are refugees who are not settling permanently, they still have a huge impact on already strained resources and infrastructure — schools, housing and other services.”


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