Refugee Support Team: Need Continues to Grow
Upwards of 65 million persons worldwide are now displaced from their homes by violence and other harsh conditions. Syrians number about 13 million of these. The need continues to grow, with men, women and children becoming more desperate, whether or not they are in the headlines during this campaign season.
Despite opposition from many governors and other politicians, the federal government continues toward the goal of resettling 10,000 Syrians above the total number of refugees originally established for the U.S. this fiscal year. By the end of July about 7,500 had been welcomed. Such a tiny drop in the bucket compared with the need, and with what many other nations have provided. Meanwhile, Canada has opened its arms to more than 25,000, supported by enthusiastic volunteer groups.
One presidential candidate has implied that Americans should be fearful of refugees and recently called for “extreme vetting” of any to be received. But this is an apt description for what already takes place. Before being approved, refugees pass through selection by the UN Refugee Agency (which most often favors women and children and elderly), and screening by the US Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and National Counterterrorism Center for any evidence of fraud, criminal behavior, or association with terrorist organizations. It can take two years.
More importantly, Americans have long thought of ourselves as generously welcoming the world’s “tired and poor.” Communities like Worcester, MA which have resettled many refugees from many countries report the benefits to local business and culture from these highly motivated newcomers.
The Refugee Support Team (RST) of the Nauset Interfaith Association is in the process of drawing up plans for local events to educate our communities about the need and the experiences of refugees who come to the US. We also expect to hold a conversation regarding Islam, since many of us have an inadequate knowledge of this religion of many refugees. Raising of funds and otherwise providing for tangible needs of refugees in the Worcester area (chosen because no MA agencies are resettling persons on the Cape) will be included.
The RST includes members from a half-dozen congregations of the Nauset Interfaith Association. For more information, contact Rev. Rod MacDonald or Rev. Ken Campbell.