The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In Missoula and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.
Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Afghanistan, D.R. Congo, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those fleeing conflict and persecution. Once refugees have been identified by the United Nations refugee agency and cleared for resettlement, the U.S. government works with the IRC and eight other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives in America. Out of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, fewer than 1 percent are considered for resettlement worldwide.
Refugees may be placed in a city where they have relatives or friends, or where there’s an established community that shares their language or culture. Other considerations include the cost of living and a community’s ability to provide medical services. However, as legal U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they chose.
The first IRC office in Missoula was opened in 1979 in response to a local request to assist Hmong, living in refugee camps in Thailand, to relocate to Montana. Over the following ten years, IRC resettled a total of 551 refugees, mainly Hmong. In 2016, IRC was approached by a local advocacy group, Soft Landing Missoula, who wanted to restart resettlement again. With its help and the support of local officials and community members the IRC launched an effort to reestablish IRC's Missoula presence.
Refugees are greeted and welcomed at the airport by IRC case workers and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:
- A furnished home
- Help with rent
- Health care
- Nutritious, affordable food
- English language classes
- Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
- Education for their children
- Social services and community support
In the coming year, the IRC will also begin providing legal services towards residency and citizenship.
The IRC in Missoula will be offering volunteer opportunities in the near future. Please check back regularly as many opportunities will manifest as the office grows!
We also plan to add immigration services within a year, which will be available to the broader community in Missoula.
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Missoula. You can:
Make a donation - Monetary donations, or in-kind donations for our Stop and Shop where individuals and families working with the IRC can find household items such as bedding, cleaning supplies, clothes, etc.
Volunteer - Volunteers are integral to refugees' success as they arrive in the United States. Learn about opportunities to support refugees in Missoula.
Subscribe to our newsletter - Be sure to log in and request info from Missoula to hear about local events.
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
people in the U.S. received asylum and protection support.
IRC offices across the U.S. provide immediate aid--including food, housing and medical attention—among other support.Learn about resettlement and asylum