Lining up in Malaysia—got money? move to the head of the line

Although it’s impossible to sort this out, I expect there is an element of truth in the charge that various UN affiliated organizations are selling refugee registrations.  Sounds like the UN has created a recipe for corruption. 

From a blog called ‘Prisoner in own Homeland:’

KUALA LUMPUR—Several Burmese organizations in Malaysia, which are affiliated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are selling resettlement registrations for profit to refugees, according to victims of the scheme and witnesses in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

The groups in question include the Chin Refugee Committee (CRC), the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) Malaysia (NLDLA), the Burma Refugee Organization (BRO) and the Arakan Refugees Relief Committee (ARRC). But sources say other affiliated groups, including several ethnic representatives, are also involved.

Earlier this year, the UNHCR began delegating the authority for issuing resettlement registration documents to Burmese groups based in Malaysia. Refugees who are recommended for resettlement by the agencies are then interviewed by the UNHCR. The exception is the CRC, which was first authorized to register its people for resettlement in 2001.

90,000 more registered already to come to a town near you!  I hear Ft. Wayne is lovely (just kidding!).

According to the Malaysia UNHCR website at the end of August, there are some 90,300 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with their office; of which about 83,000, or 90 percent, are from Burma. Of that number, about 38,500 are Chins, 19,700 are Rohingyas (Muslims), 7,400 are Burmese Muslims, 3,900 are Mon, and 3,500 are Kachins or from other smaller ethnic minorities.

Bad News! Another state relinquishes control of refugee program to a non-profit

We first focused on this issue in Tennessee but it seems that, at least according to a spokesman for Lutheran Social Services, 10-15 other states have given over the Refugee Resettlement program almost entirely to a non-profit federal contractor.  This AP story tells us North Dakota has put the fox in charge of the hen house!  

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota now will assume most of the administrative responsibilities involved in resettling refugees in the state under an agreement with state officials.

The North Dakota Department of Human Services will remain responsible for unaccompanied refugee minors and for refugee medical assistance under an agreement approved by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The state and LSS, with refugee resettlement offices in Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks, have worked together for more than two decades.

“This change makes sense because the department was contracting with LSS for many refugee services, and their organization has expertise,” said Carol Olson, executive director of the Department of Human Services.

Think about this! 

Granted most state refugee coordinators and their offices had little control as it was (except for a few good ones), but with this arrangement there is no accountability to the citizens of the state for refugee care or conversely for refugee impacts on communities.  The refugee resettlement program in those 10-15 states is now more than ever in the hands of federal contractors—quasi non-profit group managers who have no one keeping an eye on them but a distant staff in the US State Department.

Frankly, I’ve been advocating all along that this program be reformed by going the other way—get rid of the federal contractors altogether and have the program run from state offices with some accountablility to the state government and to elected officials and voters!

One more usurpation of States rights! 

Got a complaint with refugee resettlement in your state?  Write directly to the US State Department!

Eric P. Schwartz (with a copy to Barbara Day)

Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration

US Dept. of State

2201 C St. NW

Washington, DC 20520

AND DON’T FORGET!  Any letter you send to him should be copied to your Senators and Representative in Congress, with a question.  That is, you need to ask your elected officials to do something—answer a question for you—not just copy the letter otherwise they will ignore it.   Well, they might ignore it anyway, but you have a better shot at getting some action if you ask them to take action!