Global health expert shines light on role of religious groups in refugees support at World Humanitarian Summit

By Press Office

On Monday, 23rd May, Queen Margaret University’s (QMU) global health expert will shine a light on the role that religious groups can play in supporting refugees.

Professor Alastair Ager, Director of the Institute for Global Health and Development at QMU, will discuss the contribution that faith groups make in supporting refugees during an address at the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey.

The Summit, which focuses on ways to reform current approaches to manage crises, will see Professor Ager address political leaders and humanitarians from throughout the world. He will draw on his extensive research in the middle-east and other war-torn countries to highlight the role that engagement with religious groups and communities plays in refugee support. It is hoped that his research work will help to develop thinking and shape policies which will assist countries and agencies respond appropriately to the refugee crisis and reduce human suffering.

Professor Ager explained: "Even in more secular societies, such as the UK, faith communities along with other civil society groups often play a key role in receiving and supporting refugees. In many situations, however, religious communities are absolutely on the front-line of providing emergency support to those fleeing conflict and persecution, whether this is providing food, shelter, protection or emotional support.”

The World Humanitarian Summit is being convened by the United Nations to rethink how global humanitarian emergencies are addressed. The current system is widely acknowledged to be at breaking point given the number of major crises in recent years in contexts as diverse as Syria, South Sudan and Nepal. There is wide agreement in the principle of 'localisation' - emergencies being managed locally, with support from international organisations as required, rather than response being directed by global institutions far removed from the situation.

Professor Ager continued: "Our review of evidence from the field has documented the significant contribution of local faith communities in humanitarian crisis…and of the international community capitalising upon, but all too often ignoring, disrupting and, on occasions, subverting such contributions. If we are serious about 'localisation', we need to be far more intentional regarding engagement with faith groups in coordinating humanitarian response."

Evidence briefs prepared by members of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities in a project coordinated by Professor Ager have documented the work of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and other religious communities in crisis-affected contexts across the world. At the World Humanitarian Summit, religious, humanitarian and political leaders will be called upon to affirm principles of partnership that promote inclusion in furthering the goals of peace and protection.

More information can be found on the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities website

Notes to Editor

Learn more about the Institute for Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University.

For further media, information contact Lynne Russell, Communications Manager, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E:  T: 0131 474 0000, M: 07711 011239.

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries or to access one of our experts.

Show Contacts