“Free cases” Kuwa and Shog

Reading these refugee stories is turning me into a cynic.  Here is one from New Haven, CT from a week ago.  I guess I missed it because I was so preoccupied with the happenings in another Connecticut city, Waterbury

This story is about Kuwa and Shog, two African “free case” refugees.    These are the single men (mostly) that the UN seems to pluck from wherever and drop into American communities.  Read this article in the Courant to get a better picture of the issue of “free cases”.

At least one of these men has a wife back in Africa while he went from country to country until one day the UN said hop on a plane and go to New Haven.

…..for Kuwa and Shog finding a more permanent home is difficult. Most stay in one place a number of years, until the U.N. shuffles them to another safe haven. Both men fall within the U.S Department of State definition of “free cases” — refugees who have come to the U.S. on their own, without a family member or close friend to sponsor or assist them.

If a refugee cannot return home within a reasonable amount of time or resettle in his or his initial country of asylum (many times due to an overwhelming number of people in similar situations), the U.N. will often refer him or her to the U.S. Resettlement Program. Once he or she passes screening for public health, political circumstances and possible violations of the U.S. Patriot Act, the refugee has sometimes only days to prepare for departure.

Oh, let me go back to my initial assertion about my cynicism.  At the top of this article is a photo and the caption says that one of the refugees is:

…….working second shift as a machinist at the Marlin Firearms factory in North Haven. He hopes to return to Sudan someday, bringing all that he has learned back to his country.

Does anyone other than me laugh to see an editor write that one is working in a gun factory and wants to take everything he learns back to the Sudan?  Hmmm!

The reporter makes much of the fact (maybe not a fact) that one of the refugees is Muslim and the other is not and yet they get along just great in America while in Africa they would be killing each other.  The Muslim one (Kuwa) spends his free time in the library on the internet.  

Once online, he first checks his Yahoo account for news about the family he left in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and then an Arabic newspaper site for information about the social and political climate in Darfur, his native region.

So, his poor family over in the Sudan must have access to a computer or he wouldn’t be able to check on them, right? You see, I am such a cynic.

The two, Kuwa and Shog, are good friends and share tips about getting stuff in America.

Shog fills Kuwa in on such things as places to find telephone calling cards for Africa and how to get a driver’s license.


“I got mine in Nebraska” he explains to a bewildered Kuwa on a cold January afternoon. “In Nebraska, you can take the test in Arabic; you can’t in Connecticut.”


Both want to return to Sudan, but in the meantime Shog has found a moderately happy life in New Haven, with friends, some money and a growing African community. “I have come here to make money; I have come to learn things I can show people when I get back.”

Did you all know that refugees could just hop over to Nebraska for a driver’s license test in Arabic?  Wonder who pays the bus fare….just call me a cynic!