Archive for the ‘CWS’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2013
Although the federal government shutdown has now ended, refugee resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28. Complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will also delay many refugee arrivals for months. Some refugees may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time, and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas. An article in USAToday explains:
…roughly 4,500 refugees who had been cleared to come to the United States in October — including 73 heading for Kentucky — but now face delays that resettlement officials say may take months for some to resolve…
Now more than 2 weeks old, the shutdown forced the U.S. State Department to suspend most refugee arrivals and enact a travel moratorium, partly because the financial, medical and federal benefits or services aren’t available in some areas to help newcomers from Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Bhutan and a host of other countries, officials said.
Although most expect Congress to reach an agreement to reopen the government, resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28 — and even then, the shutdown’s cascading effect on complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will delay many arrivals for months.
Nowhere to go
…Some may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time — and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas, including Burmese leaving Thai refugee camps…
The shutdown came just as the government was set to begin admitting 70,000 refugees for the coming federal fiscal year, said Cindy Jensen, director of resettlement with the International Rescue Committee. The moratorium was first extended to Oct. 21, and then again to Oct. 28.
A State Department official said the move was meant to ensure refugees receive proper support when they arrive but acknowledged it had left thousands of people “sitting in limbo.”
The government is allowing those who are seen as being at high risk to continue to arrive, such as Iraqi refugees who helped the United States during the war.
Church World Service, one of a handful of federally approved resettlement agencies, reported that nearly half of the refugees under its authority, initially cleared for travel in October, will be delayed as long as three months…
…Kentucky Refugee Ministries, which operates on a tight budget, is having to use reserves to continue to pay caseworkers and provide services, partly because the shutdown has kept the agency from getting the federal reimbursement of $750 per arrival budgeted for October… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., Congress, CWS, funding, IRC, Louisville, moratorium / restriction / reduction | Tagged: catholic charities, federal government, immigration, IRC, Kentucky, Louisville, moratorium, refugees, resettlement, security clearances, shut down | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Melissa Sogard on August 13, 2013
The US will soon begin resettling 2000 Syrian refugees. Up to now Syria’s neighbors Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have shouldered the enormous refugee burden on their own, collectively taking in about 2 million Syrian refugees. Before the crises in Syria, Jordan was already feeling the tremendous burden of caring for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees. The nation’s water supply has reached the breaking point. UN Referrals of Syrian refugees to the US will come within the next four months. Those eligible for resettlement are the most vulnerable civilians, mostly usually women and children (adult males having been killed), and people who are sick. The women will most likely be heavily traumatized by war and may struggle to achieve the economic self-sufficiency goal of the US resettlement program. An article at Mint Press News has the details:
The Obama administration has announced that it will take in 2,000 Syrian refugees, the first group to be resettled in the U.S. 2 ½ years after the start of the Syrian war. The conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 and has created 1.6 million refugees according to the latest statistics from the United Nations (U.N.). With no end in sight, there will be an increasing demand for neighboring countries, as well as the U.S., to share the burdens when it comes to absorption and resettlement.
Foreign Policy’s The Cable reports that the announcement marks a break in policy for the U.S., which typically maintains a strict process for the application and absorption of refugees and asylum seekers.
“Unlike previous efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to give temporary protected status to Syrians already in the United States, the State Department effort will bring in Syrians from overseas for permanent resettlement in America,” The Cable reports.
“Referrals will come within the next four months…
The number may be small, but those working in refugee resettlement projects emphasize that those eligible for resettlement are among the most vulnerable civilians caught in the crossfire of war. “The criteria will be the most vulnerable refugees, most usually women and children, people who are sick and will not make it if we [U.S.] don’t help them get out,” said Lavinia Limon, President and CEO of U.S. Committee for Refugees, to Mint Press News…
Thus far it has been Syria’s neighbors who have stepped forward in the absence of further international support, namely Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, collectively taking in about 2 million. “Other countries have stepped forward in this responsibility-sharing exercise. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have opened their doors to over 2 million,” [Erol Kekic, director of the Immigration and Refugee Program for global humanitarian agency Church World Service] said.
Despite collectively representing 1/10 the land area and a fraction of U.S. resources, these countries have been forced to share the burden, partly due to their close proximity to the conflict… Read more here
Posted in children, CWS, Dept of Homeland Security, Obama administration, Syrian, women | Tagged: refugees, resettlement, Syria, syrian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 18, 2013
Thieves broke in and burglarized the offices of Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center in Columbus last week, according to an article and video at 10TV: This is the resettlement agency that placed refugees in a horrible apartment complex for years before being caught my the media.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Workers discovered a shattered door and missing computers at the Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center on Sinclair Road.
According to the police report, workers said that the break-in happened Sunday night and caused hundreds of dollars in damage.
It was unknown if security cameras captured the crime. Read article at source here
Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) | Tagged: burglarized, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center, computers, Ohio, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 6, 2013
Iraqi refugees in Sacramento, California battling the symptoms of post-traumatic stress have found accessing mental health care services difficult. Under Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) people have to wait up to six months to see a doctor. When they finally get an appointment the question is whether the services are culturally and linguistically appropriate. An article in the Sacramento Bee has more:
Sacramento is now home to 2,700 Iraqi refugees, many of whom have brought the war with them.
Nearly all are battling the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, including insomnia (59 percent), depression (44 percent), headaches (41 percent) and fear (38 percent), according to a report released by the UC Davis Health System Clinical and Translational Science Center…
Because of their reluctance to discuss mental problems with counselors and their inability to navigate the U.S. health care system, most Iraqi refugees don’t get the help they need, said research program manager Linda Ziegahn…
… Most are getting really frustrated with the American health care system.”…
…The report, based on interviews with 34 local Iraqi refugees, was conducted with the help of Opening Doors, a refugee resettlement agency, and the Mesopotamia Organization, an Iraqi self-help agency started by Sarmed Ibrahim, an engineer from Iraq.
“I want to thank the U.S. for making us feel safe, and where our kids can get the best education in the world,” Ibrahim said. “But after at least 10 years of suffering, most of us need mental care. It takes 3-4 months to get an appointment with a psychiatrist covered by Medi-Cal.”
The lack of help with medical issues is affecting their ability to get jobs, Ibrahim said.
But there aren’t enough Medi-Cal doctors to go around, said Marissa Ramos, chief of the California Refugee Health Program.
Even in Sacramento County, to get in to see the doctor will take up to six months. If they can finally talk to a psychiatrist, many are afraid to.
“I do not like speaking about personal problems in public,” one refugee said. “Whoever sees a psychiatrist is considered ‘crazy’; that is why we are lagging behind … .”…
…Delphine Brody of the California Network of Mental Health Clients said that Sacramento County doesn’t have a program for victims of war and torture…
“These refugees are in great need of trauma-sensitive, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health,” Brody said… Read more here
The comments section has a message from a local group called VIRTIS that psychological care available in many languages, although not in Arabic.
Posted in Iraqi, language, mental health, Opening Doors, PTSD, Sacramento | Tagged: alifornia Network of Mental Health Clients, Iraqi, mental health, Mesopotamia Organization, post-traumatic, PTSD, refugees, resettlement, Sacramento | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 29, 2013
The U.S. State Department has not responded to many questions posed by a media outlet in Athens, Georgia which has looked at the refugee resettlement program, though a recent article by the newspaper is pro-resettlement. The state government claims refugees are undue burden on limited state resources. Resettlement agencies claim refugees pay taxes, buy homes, and support education, and invest in their communities. They also claim that fewer refugees allowed to resettle in the state this year has resulted in a reduction in services to refugees already here. In the meantime resettlement agencies have also been making a late attempt to spread refugees out to other parts of metro-Atlanta and the state so as not to overburden local resettlement sites. An article in the Athens Banner-Herald discusses these and other related issues:
…Resettlement agencies prefer to place new refugees close to family or existing ethnic communities to ease the transition to life in the U.S. Family ties and communities are often bundled around resources – agency offices, English language classes, jobs – necessary to acclimation.
…the Georgia Department of Human Services to ask for a reduction of refugees coming to the state in 2013, citing school district budget shortfalls, and health and safety concerns. The U.S. Department of State would not confirm if other states had made similar requests.
“We regularly receive feedback from stakeholders involved in the refugee resettlement process and take those into account as we finalize the placement plan for the upcoming year,” wrote state department spokesperson Laura Seal in an email.
The department declined to say how regularly these adjustments are made.
Georgia is home to the seventh largest refugee population in the country. Media reports have not listed other states as requesting reductions.
Georgia’s rationale for the cuts doesn’t hold water, according to the agencies that support resettlement. Problems allegedly caused by refugees often are bottled in DeKalb and Fulton counties. But the impact of the cuts has impacted services to refugees throughout the state, refugee advocates said, and has strained the state and agency relationship supposed to benefit refugees…
…In August, just after refugee agencies submitted their annual capacity proposal to the U.S. State Department, a number it uses to determine refugee placement in Georgia, DHS sent a letter to the federal agency requesting a 50 percent reduction in refugee resettlings in the state.
The reduction, in effect, ended up closer to 20 percent, though an examination of arrivals in the first two quarters of 2013 shows no sign of abatement. The reduction lowered the maximum amount of refugees coming to the state, potentially with little impact on overall arrivals, but directly impacted the budgets of aid agencies, which receive federal funding based on the number of expected resettlements…
…[state officials have complained that refugees have incurred costs the state can’t handle, yet] Repeated requests for detailed information on costs incurred by refugees went unfilled by the Georgia DHS. A February article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted a state official estimating the cost at $6.7 million, an amount that included education costs… Read more here
Posted in capacity, funding, Georgia, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA) | Tagged: Athens, Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies, CRSA, georgia, IRC, refugee family services, refugees, resettlement, RRISA, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 26, 2013
A volunteer who assists refugees in Knoxville contacted us to tell us what is happening in that city. He claims that refugees are being injured at work in alarming numbers and that Bridge Refugee Services has not taken sufficient action to protect them. He claims that agency even sided with the temporary employment agency that placed the refugees, and is more concerned about keeping up their employment placements than they are with the refugees’ welfare.
In his letter to us he said he helps New Americans in Knoxville who have been here for a few years but that lately he has received many complaints from the new refugees. The refugees he helps are those who were resettled by Bridge Refugee Services and in the last three years the refugees who have arrived in Knoxville have encountered low quality services, especially employment assistance. He said that the refugees are employed with companies that do not provide full-time benefits after 90 days of employment, and more importantly, do not provide a safe working environment. He claims that when refugees are injured at work that Bridge Refugee Services has not been advocating for them. An Ethiopian refugee broke his hand pushing a heavy cart at work and claimed the resettlement agency was not helpful. The writer said that in the last eight months four refugees have been injured at work and none of them received any compensation. When the refugees talk to Bridge staff they say that the agency sides with the employment agency that contracts with employers who want low wage workers. He says believes that Bridge is doing this because the agency wants to keep good relations with employers so that they may place more new refugees in jobs to show the State Department high employment figures. He said he tried to talk to Bridge staff but he feels that the employment manager has no respect for anyone. He believes that she is forcing refugees into work they can’t do or into work that is not safe for them.
If anyone knows more about this situation please contact us
These are some older post on this resettlement contractor – here and here).
Posted in Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, Bridge Refugee and Sponsorship Services, employment services, employment/jobs for refugees, Ethiopian, Knoxsville, safety, volunteers | Tagged: Bridge Refugee Services, employment, injuries, injury, Knoxville, resettlement, rtefugees, workplace | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2013
An apartment complex in Columbus where refugee resettlement agencies placed refugees because of low rental rates is riddled with 63 code violations. A Nepali-Bhutanese refugee who lives in a unit with his family says his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year and said he was worried about his family’s safety. Another Nepali-Bhutanese refugee said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Community Refugee and Immigration Services and World Relief Columbus stopped placing refugees in the complex after last year’s fire publicity, but have not evacuated the other refugees to better housing despite the extensive code violations. The units are poorly maintained, have bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems, according to an inspection report. I think this case case shows the wisdom of placing refugees only according to rental unit prices while ignoring basic safety, repair and habitability issues which, by the way, are violations of the State Department refugee contracts. Will the State Department be taking any action against its refugee contractors in Columbus? I’ll believe it when I see it. An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the details of this story:
Columbus prosecutors say that a North Side apartment complex that rents to scores of refugees is riddled with code violations that owners have ignored for months.
Prosecutors filed a complaint yesterday with Franklin County Environmental Court against Summit Park Apartments. The complaint says a code-enforcement inspector has found 63 violations since September.
The inspection report said multiple units were poorly maintained, had bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems…
In three inspections since November, building inspectors found wooden balconies that had deteriorated to the point that they were unsafe. The inspections also determined that concrete and steel balconies there must be evaluated and repaired…
… In August, families from Bhutan, Somalia and other countries were displaced after fire ravaged one of the buildings, at 4349 Walford St. The fire started in a fenced-in storage area that had been filled with furniture.
Fire investigators said it was arson. At least two refugee agencies, , have not placed anyone at the complex since then.
“They still had code violations that hadn’t got taken care of that got worse after the fire,” said Kay Lipovsky, office manager for World Relief Columbus.
Agencies place refugees at complexes such as Summit Park because rents are inexpensive, she said.
One resident, Yam Subba, a Bhutanese Nepali refugee who lives in a unit with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and his mother, said his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year. Subba, 28, said he was worried about his family’s safety.
Another Bhutanese Nepali refugee, Moti Rai, who lives in a unit with his father, said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Still, Rai, 27, said he lived in a small hut in a refugee camp in Bhutan. “I think this is better than that.”… Read more here
Posted in apartment building fires, bed bugs, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), housing, housing, substandard, Nepali Bhutanese, safety, World Relief | Tagged: bedbugs, bhutanese, code violations, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, nepalese, roaches, slum lord, Summit Park Apartments, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 19, 2013
The State Department visit to Indiana this week highlights an important issue – our national refugee resettlement program requires refugees to find employment early to gain economic self-sufficiency, but that often comes at the cost of the refugees learning English. The resettlement program need to find solutions and carry them out so that the refugees can do both. An Indy Star article covering in part the State Department’s visit to Indianapolis indirectly addresses the issue:
About a year ago, executives at a fulfillment center on the Near Southside heard about Indianapolis’ growing Burmese population. The company, which had long prided itself on hiring minorities, decided to help out by offering some entry-level jobs to those in need of employment.
That gesture led to a visit Wednesday from a delegation of Washington and United Nations officials to the OSP Group site on Southeastern Avenue…
…In deference to Burmese employees, the company, which ships nearly 16 million packages a year from Indianapolis, uses signs with numbers and symbols instead of words so workers need not be literate in English to understand…
…Bartlett and Shelly Pitterman, a regional representative from the UNHCR, talked briefly with one of those employees, Mang Sin Cer, 29, who took a short break from sorting packages.
Speaking in her native Chin language through an interpreter, Cer softly and succinctly answered their questions. She has worked for the company for about a year. She came to the United States a few years ago through Malaysia.
Friends baby-sit her nearly 3-year-old while she works. Others give her a ride to work from her home on the Southside.
As for the job? Sometimes she gets tired, but “everything is all right,” Cer said through the translator.
Then, Bartlett asked whether she was learning any English.
“A little bit,” Cer said.
When Bartlett heard that the company did not have a program to help employees learn English, he suggested, “You should think about one.”… Read more here
Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indianapolis, language, Office of Admissions, UN (United Nations) | Tagged: Burma, economic self sufficiency, English, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Indianapolis, Larry Bartlett, Myanmar, OSP Group, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »