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May 22, 2024

Building Bridges for Refugees: USA for UNHCR and its Partners in Faith

In a world fraught with division, moments of unity remind us of the power of collective action and shared humanity. One such moment occurred recently at the Faith-Bridge Iftar for Refugees, an event organized by USA for UNHCR in collaboration with Islamic Relief USA, HIAS and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).   

The gathering underscored the significance of faith-based partnerships in supporting refugees, bringing together advocacy leaders, faith-based organizations and think tanks for an evening of solidarity across faiths.   

As the sun set on Washington, DC, attendees gathered for a meaningful iftar, breaking bread together in solidarity with refugees. The timing of the event was particularly poignant, falling on Easter Monday and just before the commencement of Passover—a convergence of faiths united in their commitment to alleviate the suffering of the displaced.  

At the heart of this gathering was recognizing the indispensable role that faith-based partnerships play in addressing the refugee crisis. With more than 114 million individuals displaced worldwide, the enormity of the challenge necessitates collective action. USA for UNHCR acknowledges this reality and embraces the power of collaboration with faith communities.  

Halima Hamud, Minnesota delegate for Refugee Congress, opened the event by underscoring the importance of embracing intersectional identity – including faith – as a “source of strength, grounding, and authenticity.” The Faith-Bridge Iftar was a welcome space that honored this in a room filled with allies and supporters.  

Suzanne Ehlers, CEO and Executive Director of USA for UNHCR, further encouraged attendees that a Faith-bridge is “available [and is] imperative for strategic, generous and sustainable impact.”  

Throughout the evening, speakers shared the pivotal role faith based organizations play in providing solace and support to vulnerable populations. “This is what we believe as Muslims and this is part of our mission at Islamic Relief. We are helping all human beings, but there is a very special and particular place in our hearts and our beliefs when it comes to refugees,” shared Ahmed Shehata, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, eloquently articulating the shared values of compassion and solidarity that underpin humanitarianism.   

Raphael Marcus, Chief Programs Officer of HIAS, and William Canny, Executive Director of Migration & Refugee Services at USCCB, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the importance of standing together across religious divides to uphold the dignity and rights of refugees.  

As the evening drew to a close, there was a sense of solidarity and resolve among attendees. Across faiths, cultures, and backgrounds, there was a shared commitment to building bridges of compassion and understanding — bridges that span continents and connect hearts.  

In the face of unprecedented displacement and uncertainty, the Faith-Bridge Iftar for Refugees served as a powerful reminder that, together, we can overcome the greatest challenges. Through faith-inspired partnerships and collective action, we can uphold the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, ensuring that no one is left behind in their time of need.  

We invite you to join us on this mission and to learn more about our faith-based partnerships here.  

In times of crisis, faith can be a beacon of hope. Through our collective efforts, we can light the way for millions of refugees seeking safety and a better future.