Iraqi refugees in Atlanta voice their unhappiness to IRC’s CEO

Your tax dollars:

I must say even I am getting tired of one article after another about Iraqi refugees struggling to find their way in Any City, USA.  Maybe you are too, but I think you will enjoy this aspect of the same old story. 

The basic story we have reported more than 20 times now is:

* Iraqi refugees misled by officials abroad about how great their lives in the US will be, 

* Iraqis can’t find employment and many are highly skilled, evictions possible,

* Refugee agency ‘poor mouths’ and claims they are struggling along with meager funding, trying to do their best they tell reporters,

* Iraqis are savvy enough to know how to voice their complaints to the media, unlike refugees from camps such as the Burmese or Bhutanese,

* No resolution to the problems in sight, refugee program will soon emerge on the national stage as more refugees continue to pour into the country.

This article today from the Atlanta Journal Constitution contains a revealing bit of news.   George Rupp, former President of Columbia University and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, one of the Top Ten government contractors has gone to Atlanta and called a meeting of disgruntled refugees.

Atlanta welcomes more than 2,000 refugees every year, many of whom are fleeing terror or have lived the bulk of their years without a homeland. But amid a severe recession in this country, the struggle to begin anew is greater than ever.

Expectations dashed and pocketbooks quickly emptied, jobless refugees are left to ponder whether the lives they left behind, though mired in fear, might have served them better.

“What do I have to expect? Being homeless? This is the United States. Life should be better than that,” says an angry Zainab Ibrahim, an accountant who fled to Jordan from her native Iraq and was resettled in Atlanta last June.

She came with hope, as did her compatriots Jabber Mohammed, Abdulkadir Ahmed and Imad Yakoub, middle-class professionals who expected to find suitable employment here.

Some aired their frustrations one April afternoon at the Decatur office of the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit agency that resettles refugees. George Rupp, president and CEO of the global organization, was visiting the Atlanta office to hear from Iraqis like Ibrahim, now dependent on the generosity of friends and family to pay her bills.

Rupp says American resettlement agencies feel a moral responsibility for Iraqi refugees because of the 2003 invasion and subsequent U.S. involvement in Iraq. It took the United States several years to open its doors to Iraqis displaced in the war that began in 2003. It’s unfortunate, Rupp says, that when they finally began arriving in America, it was in the midst of an economic downturn.

Corporate Humanitarianism

Let me tell you a little about Dr. Rupp and his struggling refugee agency.   This is from their 2007 Form 990:

The IRC took in $253,733,301 in that year and $108,201,276 came from you, the taxpayer, in the form of government grants.   Think about it— over $108 million!  That is almost half of all their funding.

Dr. Rupp’s salary and benefits package amounted to $412,540 which is more than the  President of the United States or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court makes. 

Four Vice Presidents in New York receive salary and benefits ranging from the high $100,000’s to nearly $250,000.    They spent around a half a million dollars on fundraising consultants and $444,000 on their financial audit alone.   

All this and they leave refugees living in fear of being evicted from their apartments and being homeless in the mean streets of America.    Where is the IRC’s moral responsibility?

We’re seeking emergency funding [Edit: this means from you the taxpayer] to prevent homelessness,” says Beattie of the International Rescue Committee.

She doesn’t know of a family who is on the streets yet, but is concerned about the high number of eviction notices. Refugees in Georgia are not immediately eligible for subsidized public housing, prompting some to migrate to states such as Maine where such housing is available.

Yes, just ship them off to Maine where the taxpayers can pick up the tab.  Maybe the IRC ought to cut a few salaries and help the people they feel a moral responsibility to!

Do you know how the Obama Administration is attempting to cap salaries of bank executives and other business executives that get taxpayer funding, same principle applies here, or does ‘spreading the wealth’ not apply to the work of do-gooders? 

I hope  you are reading this Mr. Parker.

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