IRC in the News
I volunteer for the International Rescue Committee as a family mentor. My “family” is actually two single moms from Somalia. F. is 21 years old and has a 19-month-old son. H. is 34 and has a 17-month-old son. My own daughter, Mia, is 15 months old. Although they can both read and write in their native Somali, they speak very little English. I should probably add that I do not speak Somali.
The first time we met, a volunteer coordinator, a case manager and a translator joined us in a small classroom. I expected to feel crowded, overwhelmed and awkward. I’m sure F. and H. felt the same. But none of my predicted feelings came true. Our children immediately bonded and followed each other around the room, banging on chairs, crawling under tables and playing with toys.
The International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville is hosting a public talk about the Syrian refugee crisis at noon Friday at the Central Library downtown.
Leading the talk on the recent Syrian history that has led to the crisis is Hanadi Al-Samman, a native Syrian and professor at the University of Virginia. He will be followed by the Charlottesville IRC’s executive director, Harriet Kuhr, who will speak about the organization’s efforts in response to the conflict, their work with refugees in the area and how community members can get involved.
While the refugee crisis has claimed headlines recently, the exodus has been ongoing for years -- 11.7 million Syrians were forced to leave their homes over the last four years of the Syrian civil war. This means more than half the population of Syria’s 22.85 million people have fled the country. Another 4.7 million refugees have relocated to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, the Kurdistan region in Iraq and other countries.
For years, Syria's neighbors have suffered an unimaginable refugee crisis. In Iraq, ISIS captured Fallujah in January 2014, Mosul and Tikrit in June 2014, and Ramadi in May 2015, forcing three million Iraqis to flee their homes. Some of them went to Turkey, Jordan and other parts of Iraq, including Kurdistan, making an already bad situation in these countries worse.
Nearly 60% of refugees are living in cities today and there are currently more Syrian refugees in Istanbul than in all the rest of Europe, the head of the International Rescue Committee has said.
David Miliband told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that “the iconic image” of a refugee being someone in a camp has changed.
He said so many people are fleeing conflict and chaos that there’s no room for them in camps. Equally important, he said, is that most people don’t want to be in refugee camps and when they’re displaced for a long time, they want to earn a living — even if that means working in the black market.
Waleed Al Shok, a 39-year-old Iraqi who came to New York City from Baghdad in 2013, is thankful for the mental dividends of New Roots. He’ll often bring his wife and young sons to the farm to relax amid his eggplant, beans, and garlic. None of it quite measures up to the taste of dates picked from his grandfather’s yard back home, Al Shok concedes, but there’s a sense of peace that comes simply from working the land. “Life in New York is not easy, especially if you have a family.
The collaboration will support two charities 'Hand in Hand for Syria' and the 'International Rescue Committee' as the two charities continue their vital work in dealing with the humanitarian crisis. Responding to the tragic ongoing events, the Gala has been organised by actor John Jack, and the unique cross genre show aims to raise £10,000 for the cause.
The Charlottesville branch of the IRC has welcomed almost 2,000 refugees since it opened in 1998. Between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015, the IRC received and resettled 241 refugees from 12 different countries.
Harriet Kuhr, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville said this value is not determined at random, but rather through engaging in an in depth dialogue with the community.
“Every community that has a resettlement program has to determined what an appropriate capacity for that community is based on housing, jobs and the interest of the community,” Kuhr said.
For over 10 years, staff at the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), a St. Paul-based healing center for survivors of torture and war atrocities, has wanted to expand the nonprofit’s services beyond Minnesota’s refugee community. Earlier this year, the opportunity arose when representatives from the International Rescue Committee(IRC) contacted CVT about developing partnerships in states with large underserved refugee populations.
It was an exciting opportunity for CVT, said Deputy Director Ruth Barrett-Rendler. After meeting with IRC representatives and touring potential expansion cities, CVT agreed to take the next step: Next year, thanks in part to a three-year, $3.423 million grant from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the program will set up shop outside of the state — serving members of Atlanta’s large refugee community.