By the Way With Joel Meeker

The Refugees Will Go Home

Millions are being displaced, and millions more are affected by today’s burgeoning refugee crises. When will the outcasts be able to go home in peace?

I recently drove by the Jungle outside Calais in France. The Jungle is a makeshift camp created by undocumented migrants and refugees trying to make their way to the United Kingdom, where they hope to find a better life. How many are truly refugees and how many are simply seeking better economic prospects are open questions. But many have come from Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan and North Africa—areas where the presence of war is keenly felt.

About 4,000 people were in the camp when I saw it. More come constantly, able to walk no further because of the English Channel.

Authorities are having difficulty managing the camp, unable to control frustrated people who attempt to break into the Channel Tunnel or board ferries or trucks by subterfuge or by force. Several desperate migrants have died in accidents or drowned trying to swim the 33 kilometers (20 miles) to England.

Tensions are high, leading to numerous clashes with police attempting to maintain order.

A worldwide dilemma

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there are 14 million refugees worldwide in precarious situations. This is not counting the over 5 million registered refugees living in permanent UN camps.

Many of the people with whom I work in Africa were refugees for extended periods. Where the borders of Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo meet, almost everyone knows the life. Millions of Rwandans fled to Burundi, the Congo or Tanzania during the genocide of 1994. Untold thousands of Burundians have now taken refuge in Rwanda due to the ongoing political violence shaking their country. Thousands of Congolese flee to either Rwanda or Burundi when the region’s warlords unleash their private armies.

The Jungle, a makeshift camp outside of Calais, France, attracts undocumented migrants and refugees trying to get to Britain. Photo: BY 2.0

The Jungle, a makeshift camp outside of Calais, France, attracts undocumented migrants and refugees trying to get to Britain. Photo: BY 2.0

At the Bukavu border crossing point between Rwanda and the Congo, I’ve seen UN shelters standing vacant, purposely left in place for the next refugee crisis, which is sure to come.

Today’s news is full of refugees fleeing their homelands and arriving in countries that are growing tired of their swelling numbers and not always respectful behavior.

The problem is currently insoluble; the toll of human misery, immense.

A historic problem

The Bible recounts many stories of refugees who were forced from their countries, displaced by war or famine. Such people are often called outcasts—people literally cast out of their lands. The 10 tribes of Israel were driven from their homes by their Assyrian overlords. Later many in the kingdom of Judah faced a similar fate: deportation to Babylon. Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and many other men of God knew personally the fate of outcasts.

Beyond the bad news

Bible prophecy foresees intensifying refugee problems in the years ahead, as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride ever harder. But there is hope. The displacement of harassed populations will finally end with the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Under God’s protection, all people will be safe and flourish in their own homes and nations.

“‘In that day,’ says the LORD, ‘I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast. … I will make the lame a remnant, and the outcast a strong nation; so the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on, even forever’” (Micah 4:6-7).

Then everyone will be able to go home—for good.

Joel Meeker


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