Kosovar Refugee Resettlement Update
Some 400 Kosovo refugees from Macedonia will arrive Wednesday afternoon at McGuire Air Force base in central New Jersey and will then be bused to nearby Fort Dix.
Another group will arrive at McGuire on Friday, while a third will fly into New York on Saturday.
This first group of refugees have been selected for humanitarian reasons and generally do not have relatives in the United States. They will be sponsored and assisted by one or the other of 10 refugee resettlement agencies that normally assist refugees arriving in the U.S.
It’s expected that this first group will remain at Fort Dix for up to several weeks while the agencies arrange for their resettlement in host cities around the United States, said Kay Bellor, the International Rescue Committee’s director of resettlement.
A second planeload of refugees is scheduled to arrive at Fort Dix tomorrow Friday. Like the first group, they generally do not have not have relatives in the United States and will likely spend several weeks at Fort Dix.
On Saturday evening, the first Kosovo refugees who have relatives live in the U.S. are scheduled to arrive at New York’s Kennedy International Airport. Although these newcomers will likely receive strong support from their relatives, the IRC or another refugee resettlement agency will be responsible for providing assistance to the newcomers and ensuring that they have adequate living quarters and access to social services and other help.
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman are expected to greet today’s arrivals. The U.S. Army and volunteers from local communities near Fort Dix have been working all week to prepare the base for the refugees’ arrival.
The volunteers have rounded up cribs, playpens and toys for the refugee children, and local church members have put together boxes of toiletries and personal items – like toothbrushes and shampoo – for the adults.
A sign over the Fort Dix gymnasium, where the refugees will be received, reads "Mirsevini Ne Amerike" – Welcome to America.
During their stay, the refugees will be housed in freshly cleaned dormitories at what was once the U.S. Army’s largest basic training center.