The IRC in Arizona thanks you for making refugees welcome this year! We are grateful for the response from the Phoenix and Tucson communities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and during continued attacks to the refugee program. You have responded to this unprecedented challenge through financial support, making emergency care kits, volunteering remotely, and making thousands of calls to elected officials to ensure that refugees were included in community assistance plans. Your support allowed us to offer emergency assistance to refugees and immigrants struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure they feel safe and welcomed here. For this, we are truly thankful!
In 2019, the IRC in Arizona worked with over 15,000 refugees, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, Special Immigrant Visa holders who worked with the US military abroad, and other migrants. This year, due to the pandemic, previously self-sufficient clients are reaching back to the IRC having experienced job loss, illness or required isolation which has impacted their employment. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the IRC in Arizona has seen an 80% increase in requests for financial assistance.
To address these increased urgent needs, IRC teams conducted emergency assessments across Phoenix and Tucson. We coordinated testing and provided linguistically appropriate health and safety trainings so that clients felt safe and comfortable upon their return to the workplace. Both offices conducted mask donation drives and distributed masks and hygiene items to all clients as needed, ensuring each member of a family has at least one mask per person. The IRC also conducted extensive outreach to ethnic based community groups and encouraged them to share critical COVID related information with their communities. Through generous donations from our community, emergency care packages were delivered to over 2,500 individuals. Over 2,000 clients were assisted with COVID-19 related needs on a monthly basis across both offices.
2021 brings new opportunities to welcome as well as new challenges. With a new surge of COVID-19 beginning in Arizona, prolonged medical and economic needs related to the pandemic are expected to increase dramatically. Emergency support for refugees affected by the pandemic will continue to be needed through the new year. Additionally, the U.S. President-Elect has pledged to raise national refugee arrivals to 125,000 annually, a significant increase over current refugee arrivals. This change would be live-saving for tens of thousands of families, but requires resettlement agencies and community partners to scale up their services. We are prepared to rebuild the welcome for refugees in 2021, but it will require support from our entire community to make this happen.
Every member of our staff - from the case worker explaining how to properly wear a mask to a newly arrived refugee in Tucson, to the counselor helping a refugee overcome trauma in Phoenix - is stronger when people like you are standing alongside them.
We hope we can count on you to stand with us as we rebuild this welcome in Arizona!
With gratitude and best wishes for the New Year,
The IRC in Arizona
You can help us rebuild the welcome for refugees and immigrants who come to Arizona seeking safety by making an online donation to Phoenix or Tucson, or by being a part of our Phoenix Holiday Giving Campaign or Tucson COVID-19 Needs Kit Drive.