just another star in the sky (littlestarletta) wrote in ontd_political,
just another star in the sky

Concerns deepen over local refugees (follow up post)

Photo Caption: Resettled refugees Retaj, 7 (from left), Baker, 5, and Farah, 10, came here from Iraq with their parents, who did not want to give their last name. The family lives at Hunters Glen Apartments, and they have no heat.

Want to help? To donate money, goods or time to help refugees, contact:
* The Guilford Congregational Assistance Network: Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Attn: Rev. Virginia Herring, 607 N. Greene St., Greensboro, NC 27401. 272-6149, Ext. 220.
* Islamic Center of the Triad: Attn: Refugee Committee, 4930 Mary St., Greensboro, NC 27409-2810. 856-2870.
GREENSBORO — Guilford County’s resettlement agencies are taking in too many refugees without enough resources to support them, faith leaders said this week.

Recent concern has focused on the plight of newly settled Iraqis at the Hunters Glen Apartments, along with the story of a homeless Burmese refugee who arrived at Greensboro Urban Ministry’s shelter in November.

A key minister in the Refugee Information Network of Guilford said there has been growing unease since last winter, when a wave of African and Burmese refugees arrived and were nearly destitute within three months.

“I’m distressed. We as a community have let this thing go on too long,” said the Rev. Virginia Herring, assistant to the rector at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, who helped form the volunteer network. “This is tragic. It has to be fixed.”

Badi Ali, president of the Islamic Center of the Triad agrees. “You can’t just bring them here to become homeless. This is not the American way. I want the government to stop bringing Iraqis to Greensboro and give us time to absorb what we have. I’m worried about the children, to tell the truth.”

The Islamic Center planned to meet this morning at Hunters Glen with newly arrived Iraqi families, including tenants who have been plagued with furnace and plumbing problems at the sprawling complex near McKnight Mill Road and U.S. 29.

A family with three young children, profiled in a Sunday News & Record story, went several days without heat recently. Their furnace was working by Monday but out again Tuesday, then working again Tuesday evening.

The story of the family who, like many Iraqis, came here to escape Shiite death squads, brought a flood of offers of assistance.

A city inspector visited the apartment Tuesday after a newspaper inquiry. According to a Hunters Glen property manager, the furnace had been repaired by 5 p.m.

At Lutheran Family Services of the Carolinas, a spokeswoman emphasized that resettlement agencies do not decide how many refugees come; they simply do their best to cope with the numbers.

“This is an antiquated, underfunded system,” said Sabrina Goins, a spokeswoman for Lutheran Family Services’ Charlotte office.

She said that federal funding only covers about 39 percent of the true cost of resettling refugees.

Guilford County is expected to receive about 40 percent of the state’s refugees this fiscal year.

Most come with the typical baggage of poverty and culture shock. But many, Ali said, bear the added burden of having escaped an unfolding tragedy.

Take, for example, Hunters Glen resident Fareed Saber.

He worked for the U.S. military, then suffered torture at the hands of Shiite militia as a result.

Not only is he without means of support; he has been left disabled by back injuries.

Volunteer advocates, who question why newly arrived families are no longer paired with sponsors to help them in crisis, say the system needs a hard look.

Tags: immigration
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