YMCA has International program working with refugees

I didn’t know that about the YMCA until I saw this Houston Chronicle article about Jeff  Watkins, executive director of YMCA International Services in Houston.    I just have a little time this morning to dash off a few posts, so here are 3 nuggets pulled from this article that interested me.

First, I didn’t know that even 5% of Iraqi refugees were returning to Iraq (or back to the Middle East):

“The Iraqi refugees we currently work with speak English and are highly intelligent,” Watkins said.

Some refugees have “inflated expectations” that their training or recertifications will allow them to work in their former professions.

All but about 5 percent make the effort to complete the resettlement program and remain in the United States, he said.

And, this was interesting, although we could have guessed.

“Houston is a magnet for Vietnam just as Chicago and St. Louis are magnets for former Yugoslavia [Bosnian Muslims], and Minneapolis and St. Paul are magnets for Somalia,” Watkins said.

And finally, no terrorists need apply:

The program provides checkpoints and background screenings at each step of the process, starting before the refugee boards a plane for the United States, Watkins said.

“If you’re a terrorist and you want to gain entrance to the United States, this is one of the worst programs you could choose,” he said.

Japan begins to take refugees

For the first time, and becoming the first country in Asia to accept refugees through the United Nations, Japan accepts 30 Burmese refugees.

(Kyodo) _ Japan will accept around 30 refugees from Myanmar who are currently taking shelter in Thailand, in fiscal 2010 that starts April 1 that year, under a recent Cabinet agreement to introduce the so-called third-country refugee resettlement program, government officials said Thursday.

Representatives from justice, foreign affairs and nine other ministries and agencies will hold a meeting Friday at the prime minister’s office to decide on details, such as reception facilities for the Myanmar refugees, the officials said.

The refugee resettlement program calls for third countries to accept refugees who flee their conflict-stricken home countries to nearby states but find it hard to resettle in either of those nations.

Read my previous post on Japan here.