In recent weeks, we have all been shocked and saddened by media reports of the violence in Sudan and the desperate plight of its citizens. Since April, more than 250,000 people have fled from the fighting into neighboring countries, alongside nearly two million who are internally displaced. Many of them are in desperate need, lacking even basic food supplies, or have found themselves unwelcome in their host countries.
The suffering of the Sudanese people has sharply highlighted a refugee crisis that affects large parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). 5.4 million people are still exiled from Syria, and many from other countries are affected by war and instability. The region also hosts huge numbers of refugees, with some 3.9 million in Türkiye and 850,000 in Lebanon. Their presence puts additional strain on already struggling societies and economies. And tension and animosity towards them is not uncommon among the hosting nations, whose people may already be struggling to find work or put food on the table.
“Supporting refugees through satellite television and digital media and highlighting their plight is a vital part of SAT-7’s ministry,” says Rita El-Mounayer, CEO of SAT-7. “Both our Lord and we – His people – can identify with aspects of their experience. In Matthew’s Gospel, the infant Jesus flees from violence at the hands of King Herod and takes refuge in Egypt. And 1 Peter calls Christians ‘aliens and strangers’ in their host societies, because their distinctive identity causes their neighbors to resent them.”
SAT-7’s programs and videos amplify the voices of refugees, minister to their needs, and encourage their acceptance across the region. In response to the war in Sudan, we have recorded a series of short films for social media, in which refugees tell their stories of escape. The first of these attracted more than a million views when it was released on Facebook.
A recent episode of the SAT-7 PARS program Insiders looked at the culture shock that refugees can experience when they are uprooted from their home nation. Additionally, a new program, Along the Borders, is providing advice to guide them through the multiple challenges that they face. Some of the channel’s viewers have shared with us their moving testimonies of what it means and how it feels to relocate to another country.
SAT-7’s program My School was launched in 2015 in response to the conflict in Syria, and since then it has been providing high-quality primary education for refugee and displaced children across the Arab World. We have recently completed the fifth and final season, and we rejoice to see the program in use in schools for Syrian refugees and on a leading online learning platform. Although its young viewers may be far from home, we pray that it will help them to keep engaging with their education.
The tragic earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria in February 2023 that claimed so many lives also left millions of people homeless. Many of them are still living in tents, while tens of thousands fled or were evacuated from the affected areas. SAT-7 TÜRK has produced a documentary from the province of Hatay, which details the effects of the earthquake on the population and the recovery process, including the rebuilding of homes. It included an inspiring interview with a man who lost his house in the disaster.
“Please remember before the Lord the many refugees and internally displaced people from Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Türkiye and elsewhere across the Middle East, whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict and disaster,” says Rita.