1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

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According to the European Commission, globally we are experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II ( It is estimated that two thirds of the refugees coming to Europe by land from the Middle East and North Africa and 60% of sea arrivals are women and children ( The Women's Refugee Commission estimates that in 2014, 80% of the 51 million refugees worldwide were women, often of childbearing age ( In addition to vulnerable women, during 2015 90,000 unaccompanied children registered for assistance and potential political asylum in Europe (


Based on this alarming increase in vulnerable and displaced refugee women and children, the United National High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) launched the Blue Dot initiative, which includes 20 Child and Family Protection Support Hubs. These are strategically located along the most common migration routes. The first hubs opened beginning in January 2016 in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. The multiple standardized services of these centers are restoring family links through the Red Cross and Red Crescent and other nongovernmental organizations; reunification of families with mother, infant, and child friendly and safe spaces; psychosocial "first aid" and counseling with outreach social workers; legal counseling; and electronic communication connectivity (


This initiative may help to ameliorate the tragic life experiences these refugees have had, many of which have been sexually, emotionally, and physically abused. The Global Fund for Women provides critical support for refugee women and their children in Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, which includes healthcare and a focus on the empowerment of women.


Often you may ask, "What can I do?" The United Nations has suggested the following ways that we can help refugees:


* Collaborate with other maternal/child nurses, working with reputable local and international organizations


* Remember that refugees need help both locally and globally


* Advocate with "mother and baby" companies to make donations including funds and products for refugee women


* Listen to and share refugee women's stories on social media, including not only the horrific tragedies they experienced, but also uplifting stories about incredibly strong women. These are voices of courage.


* Keep the needs of refugees in mind even when their needs are not headlined in the media


* Become informed. The UNHCR has a list of other ways you can contribute. Visit online sites such as Save the Children, the Red Cross, the World Food Program, and the International Rescue Committee.



I would add to assist refugees living in your own community, including those who you may interface with in your neighborhood and your clinical practice. Volunteer to assist when feasible, considering working with faith-based organizations who often sponsor programs for refugees. The recently established humanitarian initiative, "I was a stranger" focuses on assisting where we live. Suggestions are made to provide personalized one-on-one service, giving refugee women voices and being their friends; participatory practical English initiatives; and focusing on the economic empowerment of women. Consider asking yourself, "What if their story was my story?"