Interfaith Action: URI Cooperation Circles Around the World Provide Care to Refugees

Irish Naval personnel from the LÉ Eithne (P31) rescuing migrants as part of Operation Triton. Credit: Irish Defence Forces.

With the world’s eyes fixed on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, URI Cooperation Circle from Germany to Bulgaria to Bosnia and Herzegovina are building “safe places” and “giving hospitality” to refugees (excerpts taken from URI’s Charter). Cooperation Circles across Europe are mobilizing to welcome refugees, provide for basic needs and more.

“It feels good to know that in URI we are together as a family and can act together,” said Karimah Stauch, URI Regional Coordinator for Europe.

While work with Cooperation Circles work with refugees has increased in recent months, many Cooperation Circles have been working in this field for many years. Below is a sampling of the involvement of URI members. If you know a URI Cooperation Circle or Affiliate involved in this field, please let us know by emailing


  • In Germany the DMLB CC is collecting money to buy necessary goods for refugees. “We will buy [the] most needed goods, as the refugees really have nothing,” reported Karimah Stauch, URI Regional Coordinator for Europe and member of DMLB. “The population is donating various goods, but there are always things lacking, e.g. baby food, socks etc.” Karimah invited those who want to assist to donate funds for DMLB to buy and distribute good to newly arriving refugees in the transition camp in Bonn Bad Godesberg, which is very close to their office. You can donate using the bank information here or online system.  The donation system is in German (a translation to English is at the end of this article.)
  • Member of the Intercultural Circle URI Bonn CC, in close cooperation with URI Germany CC, are working with refugees in German camps. Global Council Trustee Marianne Horling leads painting classes with refugee children. “I went there to care for the children, to play with them and to paint. They have such a lot of fun with painting! This is a medium to express themselves, because they don’t speak our language or only rudimentary English,” she shared. Horling has also organized donations of items such as clothes and toys. Other members of the Cooperation Circle have worked in a refugee-camp outside the city of Bonn for about 2 years now. They teach German and play with the children to help them learn.
  • Sheikh Bashir includes refugees in his spiritual care activities. Bashir is a former Global Council Trustee co-founder and member of the boards of URI Europe and URI Germany as well as Sheikh of the German Muslim-League.
  • The Youth for Peace Cooperation Circle from Bosnia and Herzegovina gives donations and collects clothes to send to refugees in Belgrade.
  • Abdelkarim Bellafkih, who is member of BZN Cooperation Circle in Beliguim, is helping through activities organized by Free Hands Organization.
  • Angelina Vladikova, URI Cooperation Circle Liaison and member of Bridges CC in Bulgaria, said they are involved in different campaigns around the country. “Now for the beginning of the new school year (in my son’s school), we are not going to buy flowers for the teachers, but will buy school materials for refugees’ children,” she shared.
  • The URI CC Lienz/Austria, wiith Elisabeth Ziegler-Duregger’s leadership, have been working with the refugees in their town.


  • IMG_20150823_135945
    A migrant family from Niger who were brought to Ghana without shelter, clothing, or food.

    The Shalom Ghana CC was recently informed of a migrant family from Niger who were brought to Ghana by a livestock farmer to herd his cattle ranch. The farmer failed to provide shelter, clothing, food, etc. The family of 11 had “no choice but to make for themselves a similar shelter they used to build back in their villages in Niger in order to survive, and to herd the animals at the same time. Unfortunately they live in an unhealthy environment on the same compound with the cattle exposing them to flies, mosquito bites, many other insects and risk of diseases,” reported Peter Nana. The group is seeking donations of any kind to help make life comfortable for the family. “Let’s all begin today and do our part. Let’s go out from our homes and extend the little help we can to those who need it,” Nana said. “I hope with contributions from us soon, we would play a role in assisting and helping the menace and troubles migrants go through right nextdoor. By the weekend we plan to visit and donate mosquito nets as a first step, and you are welcome with contributions of any kind too.”

North America

  • InterFaith WorksCenter for New Americans provides resettlement and post-resettlement services to help refugee families reestablish their lives and overcome the barriers to successful integration in their new communities. The program typically resettles 500-600 new refugees each year, and annually serves an additional 1,200 families who have been in the U.S. for less than five years.


  • Rev. Claudia Roblee from Wisdom Circle Ministry, CC has sent this letter, which calls for action in this time of crisis, to her representatives in Congress, the Senate and the Office of the President of the United States. She invites others in URI to do the same and has posted the message to her CC’s Falcebook page, asking them to share with their representatives and indeed all whom they know. “We can make this open letter global by sharing it with everyone we know,” she said.

Lejla Hasandedic, URI Europe CC Lisaon points out that this is only a fraction of what is actually happening everyday.

“I was part of activities in Turkey with some of my friends…There are a lot of things going on. Usually we are not aware of it because we like to do it individually and anonymously, because the most important thing is to help those in need.”


Translation for the online system to donate to DMLB in Germany:

  • Ihre Spende = your donation; Betrag = amount; Zahlweise = mode of payment;
  • Giropay = giropay; Kreditkarte = credit card; Überweisung = bank wire;
  • BIC (ihre Bank) = BIC (bank code) (your bank);
  • “Ich übernehme die Kosten ….etc.” = I will pay for the cost of the money transfer. The amount of the donation will be increased accordingly.
  • “Ich habe die AGB …”  = I have the read the terms of this service and accept them.
  • “Ihre gewählte Zahlweise” = your selected way of payment;
  • “Ihre Daten für Zusendungen und Rückfragen” = your data for mailing (e.g. receipt) and queries;
  • Vorname = first name; Nachname = family name; Firmenname = company name;
  • Straße Hausnr. = Street, house no;  Postleitzahl = zip;
  • Ort = city; E-Mail = email; Telefon = telephone)