CWS resettles nearly one tenth of refugee arrivals to U.S. in 2010

November 10, 2010

A man and a woman standing with their children.

Church World Service resettled Bik Thawng, his wife Thluang Nei Kil, and their five children to Amarillo, Texas, in January. Chin refugees from Burma, they are doing well, CWS affiliate Refugee Services of Texas (RST) reports. —Photo: RST

NEW YORK

With the active involvement of congregational co-sponsors and volunteers in communities across the United States, global humanitarian agency Church World Service resettled 7,055 refugees to the United States during the past year.

That figure represents nearly 10 percent of the total 73,311 refugees resettled here during the 2010 fiscal year — Oct. 1, 2009 – Sept. 30, 2010. 

CWS includes as a member communion the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The resettlement totals include 124 Iraqis and four Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas whom CWS helped resettle to the United States in 2010.

Iraqis (1,617) constituted the largest group CWS resettled in 2010.  Others in the CWS "top 10" resettlement groups in 2010 were 1,293 ethnic Karen from Burma, 1,213 ethnic Nepalis from Bhutan, 510 Iranians, 481 ethnic Chin from Burma, 446 Somalis, 406 Cubans, 250 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 181 Eritreans, and 148 Vietnamese. 

CWS also resettled 143 Palestinians and smaller numbers from each of 30 other nationalities.

The United Nations estimates that of the 16 million people worldwide who are uprooted from their countries because of persecution and armed conflict, some 747,000 of them need permanent resettlement to another country.  However, less than one percent of the world’s refugees — about 100,000 — get that opportunity each year.

For example, in 2009, just 112,400 refugees were admitted for resettlement by 19 countries.  The receiving countries included the United States with 79,900, Canada with 12,500 and Australia with 11,100.

Church World Service, its 34 local offices and affiliates in 21 states, and participating denominations make the daunting task of adjusting to a new country easier for newly arrived refugees by enlisting local congregations and community volunteers to help. 

They provide friendship and assistance with practical matters like finding jobs, navigating public transportation and enrolling children in school.  This community assistance helps the newcomers make the transition to American life and self-sufficiency.

The offices and affiliates that received the largest number of  refugees for resettlement under CWS auspices in fiscal 2010 were in Phoenix, which resettled 457 people for CWS,  Los Angeles (434), Columbus, OH (360),  Indianapolis (317), Lancaster, PA (315),  Denver (312), Grand Rapids, MI (311), Decatur, GA (291), Miami (270) and Houston (250).

Arrivals in 2011 are forecast to be just as high or higher.  In FY 2009, CWS resettled 6,614 refugees, including 138 Iraqis and 48 Afghans with Special Immigrant Visas.

One of 10 voluntary agencies that participate in a “public-private partnership” with the U.S. government to welcome refugees invited to resettle to this country through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, CWS has helped nearly 500,000 refugees begin new lives in the U.S. since the agency was founded in 1946.

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