First Kosovar Refugees Arrive in New York
A total of 102 Kosovar Albanian refugees are scheduled to arrive tomorrow evening (Saturday, May 8) at New York’s Kennedy International Airport.
They will be met by family members whose efforts helped bring them to the United States as part of the humanitarian evacuation of 20,000 refugees from Macedonia announced last month at Ellis Island by Vice President Al Gore.
The IRC is the resettlement agency for 80 of the refugees arriving Saturday evening. They are spread among 16 New York metropolitan area families, the majority from the Bronx. The staff of the IRC’s New York regional resettlement office spent much of the last two days calling the sponsoring relatives to let them know of the arrivals and ensuring that airport transportation and initial housing arrangements had been taken care of.
The State Department is planning a brief welcoming ceremony for the refugees and their families at Kennedy Airport.
The Kosovar Albanians arriving Saturday were reached in Macedonia after relatives in the U.S. contacted the IRC or one of the nine other resettlement agencies and provided information that made it possible to locate the refugees.
In contrast to Saturday’s arrivals, the two planeloads of refugees who were flown to Fort Dix today and Wednesday generally did not have relatives in the U.S. and were evacuated on humanitarian grounds – to ease overcrowding in Macedonian refugee camps. It’s expected that arriving Kosovars will continue to be a mixture of refugees with and without relatives in the U.S.
In the weeks ahead, IRC resettlement staff members and volunteers will work with the newly arrived refugees and their families to ensure they receive the assistance, resources and support they need to establish new homes for themselves in the U.S.