Herbert Quelle, German Consul General and Amy Rowell, director of World Relief, visited Davenport, Iowa last Thursday, to address the effect of the Syrian refugee crisis on the Quad Cities.
The majority of Syrian refugees are fleeing a war zone, looking for a better economic life and a safer environment in which to live.
Quelle posed an ethical question to the audience, “if you see someone in a makeshift boat coming across a stretch of water, do you just leave them in the water? No, you oblige them to come to shore and help them. You do not let them drown.”
Through World Relief partnerships with health departments, churches, community colleges and schools, refugees are provided with English language learning programs, job skills and employment services. World Relief’s mission is to facilitate refugee’s success as they transition into a new life in the United States, says Rowell.
Though World Relief has not resettled refugees from the Syrian crisis yet in the Quad Cities, Rowell believes that they will be welcomed.
Rowell says that Lady Germania, who is associated with immigrants who fled the German Revolution of 1848, still remains a symbol of strength, unity, and freedom. Lady Germania outstretches her arms for other immigrants that will come one day.
Quelle quoted Pope Francis in his address to Congress on Sept. 24. Concerning the crisis, “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way, which is always humane, just and fraternal, “says Pope Francis.
This year, Syrian refugees make up 1 percent of the German population, says Quelle. A majority of the refugees hold their first language as Arabic and faith as Muslim.
“This is an added dimension, but we cannot deny anyone refugee status who has this background simply on the grounds of race of religion, “says Quelle.
The United States is co-responsible of the humanitarian deed to assist with the Syrian refugee crisis at the roots, says Quelle. Average citizens can help raise awareness, donate to international relief organizations and talk to congressmen about accepting Syrian refugees into the United States.