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Monday, June 29, 2009

Iraqi Refugees in the US: Whoops, Got Us Again

According to an IRC report released this month, "The resettlement program in the United States fails individuals with high levels of vulnerability, especially during difficult economic times." The report called for increased emergency funding and an overhaul of the program.

In an example cited by the organization, Hajer, a 38-year-old Iraqi refugee, arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, with her three kids last year speaking very little English. She could afford only one semester of English classes at a local college. Last December, she fell ill and lost her job at a daycare center. The public assistance she receives, $335 dollars a month, leaves her short $481 after paying rent of $816.

With the economic crash, only 51 percent of refugees are becoming self-sufficient after 120 days in 2008, down from 74 percent in 2007. Twelve percent of the refugees newly resettled by the IRC are at risk of homelessness.

"Few imagined that they would receive such short-term and limited assistance upon arrival or that they could become homeless in the country that offered them shelter," said IRC President George Rupp in a public statement. "They deserve better."

link: Crossover Dreams: Iraqi refugees in the U.S.: strangers in paradise


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