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In Brief — Sept. 7, 2005 {0356}

In Brief — Sept. 7, 2005 {0356}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

In Brief — Sept. 7, 2005

Sept. 7, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0356}

Bishop: hurricane victims are 'displaced persons' not refugees

An e-Review News Item
By Stephen Drachler**

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The hundreds of thousands of persons displaced from their homes by Hurricane Katrina are not refugees, a prominent United Methodist bishop says.

Bishop Felton Edwin May said the hundreds of thousands of persons forced from their homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama should be called displaced persons or evacuees instead of refugees.

"We do not have refugees in the United States," May said. "These persons left their homes because of a horrific hurricane, not because of war or political persecution. The term 'refugee' is carefully defined in international law and by the United Nations."

May said he understands why the news media is using the term, because it is short and the scenes are reminiscent of persons victimized by war.

"Calling these persons refugees is demeaning and undercuts their humanity. They have been forced from their homes by a terrible storm. I urge persons of faith, public officials and the news media to use the accurate term — displaced persons or evacuees — to describe these persons."

May was bishop of the Washington Area of The United Methodist Church before his retirement in 2004. He currently serves as the dean of the Harry R. Kendall Science and Health Mission Center at Philander Smith College in Little Rock.


This article relates to Disaster Response.

*Parham managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Drachler is executive director of Public Information at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn.