Hunger strike! When I saw the headline for this story—‘Refugees plight focus of woman’s hunger strike’—-I expected to read about a camp in Africa, Thailand or Nepal, not the United States. This African woman is on a hunger strike in Albuquerque because refugees are living in abject poverty and she wants to bring attention to their situation.
Of course if you are a regular reader here you know the only new thing in this story is the woman’s means of getting attention. State Department are you listening! By the way, this coming week the federal refugee contractors (like Catholic Charities mentioned in this news report) will be getting together outside Washington, DC to decide how many refugees they will be bringing to the US next year. This year we are on target to bring the largest number of refugees to the US since 9/11—yes, in the middle of the great recession. So, I ask for the umteenth time—how humane is this?
From KOB News 4:
State and city lawmakers have met with a woman who was on day 16 of her hunger strike Friday.
Advocate Nkazi Sinandile, known as Mama Kazi, is trying to raise awareness for people who left their countries to escape violence and now live in Albuquerque. She says refugees are trapped in poverty because they can’t speak English and don’t have much job experience.
“I said enough is enough. When I see people digging for used clothes and household items. And a lot of them wasting away in their homes without jobs,” she said. The man who provides resettlement services to all exiles who move to New Mexico said many refugee families struggle to make ends meet.
“I would say, in many respects, the system is broken, particularly with the recession,” said Marshall Jensen, the director of the Center for Refugee Settlement and Support for Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Catholic Charities is contracted by the State Department to provide refugee resettlement services. For many families, Jensen said federal money runs out in four months.
Officials are now desperately looking for families and other groups to sponsor or support refugee families. Why didn’t they think of that before they brought the refugees?
Albuquerque joins Fredericksburg, VA, Boise, ID, San Antonio, TX, Manchester, NH, Boston, MA, Pittsburgh, PA, Chicago, IL, Kansas City, MO, Bowling Green, KY and Greensboro, NC as overloaded cities. I’m just naming those off the top of my head, there are more! (Use our search function to see the same old story in each city.)