Are Rohingya refugees already here?

Talks continued today between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutteres, and representatives of the government of Bangladesh about how to resolve the Rohingya “crisis” according to this report in a publication from the Rohingya Youth Development Forum.

These few lines caught my eye indicating that the US has already admitted Burmese Muslims perhaps mixed in with the Burmese Christian Karen people. 

The UN high commissioner for refugees also mentioned that the UN refugee agency is in talks with several countries that are interested to allow Rohingyas into their countries for ‘resettlement’.

“We don’t think the resettlement programme is sufficiently developed and we will be advocating in relation to other countries to increase the quotas of Rohingyas in the future,” Guterres said.

Canada by far accepted the highest number of Rohingya refugees, with countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia and the Scandinavian countries also high on the list. However, the number of ‘resettled’ Rohingyas still remains low.

See our category “Rohingya Reports” here for all the background on this controversy.

International Institute of New Hampshire screws up

Add the International Institute of New Hampshire to the list of subcontractors of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) not taking care of refugees.   I know I said this before (in my Akron post), but I really couldn’t believe my eyes to see the complaints leveled against this volag in Manchester, NH and how similar they are to complaints in Waterbury, CT and Akron, OH.   The Union Leader says:

Even so, Sanderson’s [longtime director of the Institute] departure follows an approximate four-month period in which community refugee advocates brought concerns about refugee resettlement in Manchester to the institute’s Boston headquarters and U.S. Sen. John E. Sununu, who relayed them to the U.S. State Department, his spokesman said.

Sununu, R-N.H., said his office is reviewing how many federal funds go toward settling refugees in New Hampshire and how it is spent.

“Are the right resources being allocated to housing, to health care, to education?” Sununu asked during a recent visit to Manchester.

Dear US State Department, why is the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants even one of the top ten refugee resettlement government contractors?  Is it because USCRI President Limon has come through the government/NGO revolving door?

Advocates said they raised other issues since late winter: poor quality, insect-infested housing; the institute’s alleged unwillingness to forge cooperative relationships with civic and church groups and volunteers whom refugees often turn to for help; questions about how federal funds allotted each refugee are split between the refugee and resettlement agency; and Manchester’s capacity to absorb more refugees.

Manchester sounds exactly like Waterbury.  Most puzzling to me is why do these International Institute’s not seek enough help from churches and apparently even turn volunteers off.  We have been advocating a reform of the program that would put more responsibility for resettlement on volunteer churches and other groups, not less! 

Baines [former mayor, Robert Baines] was mayor in 2004 when the city succeeded in getting a three-month moratorium imposed on refugee resettlement after Manchester became overwhelmed with an unexpected influx of mostly Africans, including 34 children who became lead poisoned. Baines attributed most of the problems to the state’s other refugee resettlement agency, the Concord-based Lutheran Social Services of Northern New England, which he said brought refugees to Manchester without notifying school, health and other city officials.

Since then, the state’s largest city — which historically has absorbed most of the state’s refugees — has suggested other communities share in taking in refugees. 

That is no surprise.  We are hearing that everywhere?   Why us?  Why so many to our city?  It is simply because you let the program take root in the first place and at one point some leaders in your city were perceived as “welcoming”.  And, anyone who squawked too loud was silenced with charges that they were racist, xenophobic and uncharitable.

Based on some hardhitting comments to the Union Leader, the city isn’t so “welcoming” any more.  Here are just two:

While the citizens of this state and this country continue to get strangled by rising prices and a devalued dollar, we are forced to be a host to people without basic means of support. This is done against our will and without a vote. Therefore every employee of the International Institute as well as Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charaties should be identified and then mandated to pay for every refugee that is settled here. They should also be mandated to serve the prison term each refugee recieves for any crimes commited. Then you would see how fast this BS would stop.
John S., Manchester, NH 

Whether you’re a hard-nosed conservative or a bleeding-heart liberal, the bottom line is this: the will of the people must dictate political action. If a majority of residents are in favor of these programs, do it. If a majority are against, you don’t do it. Too often in this country, people like Bracy, Benedict-Drew and Sununu act without the slightest regard for the will of the majority of the community’s residents/voters.
Matt, Manchester

John and Matt have hit the nail on the head.  If the volags (supposedly volunteer resettlement agencies) had to use their own funds (and not the taxpayers funds), resettlement would be slowed to a manageable level.  Also, we have contended from the earliest days of this blog that communities should be given all the facts and then the community should decide if they want refugees in the first place, or at some point should be able to say they have enough for now.

You know the old saying, “the buck stops here,”  well this buck stops with the US State Department and USCRI whose pres., Lavinia Limon , gets a few of those bucks herself ($195,000 annual salary courtesy of the US Taxpayer). 

Read about Waterbury, CT here and Akron, OH here