IRC in the News
Ferries operating between Greece's islands and the mainland are fully booked, due in part to the large numbers of asylum seekers and migrants trying to reach the mainland. Commercial ferries leaving for the mainland are booked till the middle of next week, leaving islands such as Lesbos in the north east Aegean Sea "overwhelmed with refugees."
Paul Donohoe of the IRC, explains that ferries are the normal route asylum seekers and migrants take when trying to leave the islands. It usually takes a day or two to register at a police station, get papers to travel, and board a ferry to mainland Greece.
An unprecedented spike in refugee arrivals on Greek shores is pushing the resort island of Lesbos to "breaking point", with some 2,000 people landing there every day.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, it wound up being one of the most destructive disasters in U.S. history.At least 1 million people in the Gulf region were displaced and more than 1,800 people were killed. A decade later, Louisiana is still finding damage. Charities and NGOs like the Salvation Army swarmed Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. But as time passed, they discovered this was more than a simple relief effort. This disaster required a long-term commitment to resolving socioeconomic issues for the poor and working people of the Gulf Coast.
Christine Petrie of the International Rescue Committee was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after the levees collapsed in New Orleans. Petrie says the IRC found out it would take a coordinated effort to provide resettlement for the victims.
There was a time not so long ago when Andy Mulumba would have felt very uncomfortable putting on a suit and telling his story to an auditorium filled with strangers.
Six years earlier, the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker had left Montreal — knowing very little English — to accept a football scholarship at Eastern Michigan University.
But here he was, in front of a sea of West Bend high school students, thanking them for raising $10,000 on behalf of RAISE Hope for Congo. The money will be used to build shelters in his native country to treat women for injuries sustained because of war or rape.
The Turkey-Greece route has resurfaced these summer months as a thriving business for smugglers profiting from the stream of people fleeing war and poverty. One example: traffickers in Turkey are getting help shepherding growing numbers of Syrians to Greece, thanks to Syrian accomplices, migrants say.
The influx - 140,000 this year including 50,000 in July alone according to the International Rescue Committee, mainly from Syria - is overwhelming a nation in economic crisis.
The International Rescue Committee, enrolled 15 Central American students into its Refugee Youth Summer Academy program this year. They are part of a class of 114 refugee children who graduated on Friday from a training program for transition into public schools. This year’s Central American students have a variety of back stories.
“As the world gets more complicated, so does the diversity of the students that we’re serving,” said Sara Rowbottom, who oversees the academy.
“You wear clothes every day, and there is someone behind your clothes,” Sandrine Espie reminds me, standing in the middle of a classroom in SoDo that’s full of sewing machines and fabric. Though a roomful of sewing machines might evoke images of sweatshop labor for the uninitiated, Espie is explaining “slow fashion” values to me: “There is a human face behind everything we are wearing—at the end of the day there is a human face, a person behind the machine.”
Espie is taking me through a tour of MUSES, a unique nonprofit startup fashion studio. Together with her business partner, Esther Hong, Espie created MUSES, which offers free training and certification for small classes of screened applicants from refugee and immigrant communities in Seattle.