News Release

Church working with governments and other partners to aid refugees in Europe

Apostle shows support during visit to Europe

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is continuing its long existing partnership with international humanitarian organisations to tend to the dire needs of refugees entering Europe. Support is underway to provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical supplies. 

The Church follows the admonition of Jesus Christ to help others in need. Jesus Christ taught His followers to take in the stranger and to care for each other (Matthew 25:35-36). During a recent visit, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest presiding body in the government of the Church, showed his support for these efforts and gathered first-hand impressions of the situation of refugees in Europe. "The scale of this human tide has to be seen to be believed”, expressed Elder Ballard. “I have seen our people working alongside new friends of all faiths and nationalities to relieve the suffering of those who have been driven from their homes and countries. I am so grateful for the dedicated service of all involved to bring relief to those who need it most."

Organisations with whom the Church is working include UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Malteser Germany, the Crisis Management Center of the Republic of Macedonia , Catholic Relief Services, Medici per i Diritti Umani (MEDU), and the International Medical Corps. “We are pleased to work with such compassionate and experienced partners,” said Elder Patrick Kearon, Europe Area President of the Church. “We have seen what they do and are confident that our joint efforts will make a difference in the lives of those fleeing from war and misery.”

Elder Ballard visited two refugee shelters in mid-November. In Berlin, he met with representatives of Malteser Germany to which the Church donated hygiene articles and four pallets of toys for children that had to flee their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships. He was accompanied by Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Debbie, and Elder Patrick Kearon, President of the Europe Area of the Church, and his wife, Jennifer. The senior leaders had the opportunity to visit with refugee families and learn about their hopes and challenges.

With the help of the Church, UNHCR assists refugees by offering information about their rights and providing food, water, shelter, and medical care. The project supported by the Church will focus on Greece and the Balkans. Elder Ballard and Elder Kearon visited a shelter on one of the Greek islands, where refugees first arrive in Europe, to learn more details and express their appreciation for the service rendered to those in need.

The Church is also supporting a project by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to grant help to 225,000 children from refugee families in Italy – 90,000 over the next six months. Children are receiving clothing, blankets, and toys. Supplementary feeding kits will be available to younger children and their parents. UNICEF creates child-friendly spaces in refugee shelters to help children experience an environment that will allow them to deal with trauma and distress.

Refugee children on the transit area between Greece and Slovenia will be provided with winter caps to protect them from the cold.   

Catholic Relief Services has been a trusted partner of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for many years. In Serbia and Macedonia, both organisations will cooperate to provide food, emergency supplies, and psychological counselling to refugees and their families. The Church also supports Caritas in Athens to aid refugees.

MEDU (Physicians for Human Rights) is a non-profit organisation based in Italy. The Church has funded a mobile medical unit for a MEDU initiative. This vehicle will deliver medicine and medical supplies, but also food and kitchen utensils to refugees currently staying in Italy. An open clinic will also be supplied to assist with medical and psychological care. MEDU was founded by a group of physicians, midwives and other volunteers.

The International Medical Corps provides primary medical and psychological services to refugees arriving on various Greek islands, including Samos and Kos. With financial assistance from the Church, this humanitarian organisation will administer medical and psychological care and refer those in need to local hospitals for higher-level care.

The Church has been providing aid to refugees in the Middle East for more than a decade, donating hundreds of thousands of blankets, clothes, emergency medical supplies, food, and other resources to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria. An announcement was made at the end of September, stating that Mormons in Europe, supported by Church headquarters in the United States, will be stepping up their aid to refugees fleeing to Europe.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.