20 June, 2021

Three of the world’s leading Jewish, Islamic and Christian humanitarian organisations are teaming up to strengthen faith-based responses to the world’s unprecedented refugee crisis, as growing numbers of people flee their homes to escape war, conflict and persecution.

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and HIAS have committed to organise a conference of grassroots faith leaders working to welcome refugees worldwide.

“Welcoming the Stranger, Shaping the Future” will be co-hosted by the three organisations in Geneva on World Refugee Day, 20-21 June 2022.

The conference was originally submitted as a joint pledge of IRW and LWF to the first Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, and was due to be held in Germany in October 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic meant it had to be delayed, which has now allowed for HIAS to join the pledge as an official co-sponsor.

Through fostering greater dialogue and building connections between grassroots and global actors, the conference aims to improve understanding of the work that is being done by local faith actors around the world in implementing the Global Compact on Refugees, including through core protection and peace building work. It will also explore how to enable more supportive environments for local actors to carry out such work, and share learning and best practices that can be replicated at a greater scale.

Waseem Ahmed, CEO for Islamic Relief Worldwide said:

“It’s an honour to welcome HIAS to the active partnership we have with LWF in organizing this pioneering conference. We are excited about the opportunity this dialogue will provide to showcase the exceptional humanitarian work being done by faith communities all over the world, as well as giving space and leadership for these grassroots champions to also explain the challenges they face, so we can work together to help address them. I’m personally really looking forward to learning from their wisdom and experience and taking forward their recommendations as part of our precious inter-faith future partnership with LWF and HIAS.”

Rev Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation:

“Welcoming the Stranger is a call shared by people of faith. We are delighted HIAS is joining forces with IRW and LWF. Together we are committed to serving refugees and internally displaced people, advocating for their rights and safeguarding their dignity, so that all refugees, all internally displaced people, may have hope and a future.”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS:

“We are honoured to join IRW and LWF in their efforts to unite people of all faiths behind refugees. As the number of displaced persons across the world keeps growing, it’s more important than ever to build these partnerships and bolster support for welcoming the stranger. Next year’s conference will be a valuable chance to learn from the experiences of our friends and colleagues, and I’m already looking forward to participating.”

More than 80 million people have now been forcibly displaced worldwide. 85 percent of refugees are currently hosted by developing countries.

Ahead of the conference, IRW, LWF and HIAS are working closely with other faith-based organisations to set up consultations with a broad group of grassroots faith communities, networks and organisations in areas affected by mass displacement.

  • The Nairobi-based Faith to Action Network will be hosting consultations with its extensive inter-faith membership across East and West Africa.
  • The Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, alongside Finn Church Aid (FCA), will host consultations for faith actors coming from South Asia and South East Asia, focusing on youth and the Sustainable Development Goals in displacement contexts.
  • HIAS Europe and A World of Neighbours will carry out European-level consultations with young people from faith communities in refugee-hosting contexts across the continent.