Happy 5th birthday to us!

Refugee Resettlement Watch was officially five years old on July 1st.   Somehow I thought our bday was later in the month and had planned to pat ourselves on the back sometime this next week.   What prompted me to have a look was that yesterday lots of visitors were clicking on this post from 2007 which gave me great satisfaction to know that we are being useful (and, LOL!, it reminds me of things I’ve forgotten we knew!).

So, when I checked the archives for 2007, I see we opened for business on the first of July 2007!

Since that time Judy and I have posted 4,189 posts in 50 categories.  And, although by big blog standards our 1,224,432 visitors is tiny, for a blog on a very specific topic it’s not bad.   Our top most-visited post is this oneHow did we get so many Somali refugees—with 21,724 visitors to date.

In February wordpress added a very cool feature to our stats and tells us where our readers are coming from.  The top four countries are understandable—US, Canada, UK and Australia.  But, here are the next eleven that make up the top 15 countries from which we have readers: India, Malaysia, Iceland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Germany, Norway and Kenya.

How did we get started?  I credit our local newspaper, the Hagerstown Herald Mail, with inspiring me to become a blogger because they steadfastly refused to explain to the public how the Refugee Resettlement Program of the US State Department worked when refugees were quietly being resettled to Hagerstown by the Virginia Council of Churches.

Take a minute and look at this post (The fix is in….) I wrote in 2007 which includes questions I thought the mainstream media—the Hagerstown Herald Mail in this case—should answer for their readers in our rural Maryland county.   Pretty reasonable questions aren’t they?  But, the truth is that the powers at the paper were helping promote the resettlement and didn’t want to tell the public more.   So, Judy and I figured we would do the job—and here we are 5 years later still trying to get all the answers for you!

If you have any interest in following the history of our Hagerstown refugee story, please see our category entitled September Forum, here.

Features readers shouldn’t miss!

If you are arriving here for the first time, here are some of the ways you can use RRW:

Note, first, the categories in the left hand column where you might find topics of interest.  For example, the category Rohingya Reports includes five years worth of stories that will become important to you all as we begin resettling more and more Rohingya Muslims.  It’s been fascinating to watch the media drumbeat increasing over the years for resettlement of these controversial Burmese Muslims.  And, you won’t get this history anywhere else.

One of my favorite features is the Top Posts in the right hand sidebar.  I like to see every day which posts are being read the most and you might find that of interest as well.

If you are looking for basic information on the refugee program, our fact sheet, in the header is what you need.

Where to find information is a category we use for reports, statistics and other documents you might need to understand the program and help your community know what is happening to them.  With nearly 200 posts in that category it might be getting too unwieldy, so use our search function for specific topics.   I think you will find it pretty good!

There are other topics I now wish we had made categories for, but didn’t know early-on that we would have so many stories on the topic.  For example, you will laugh, we have no category on Somalis which likely would now be our largest and who knew 5 years ago that food stamp fraud would be so hot when we had the convenience store rip-off artist in Hagerstown named Mohamad (who arrived about the same time the refugees did—hmmmm)

So again, use the search function and see what we have available.

And, thanks for visiting!  We hope you have found our charitable work at Refugee Resettlement Watch useful!

Ann & Judy

“Expats” going back to Somalia with money to rebuild

Expats or refugees, which is it?

Relative peace in Mogadishu is bringing back Somalis to rebuild their war torn country and it makes me laugh—we call them “expatriates” in this Voice of America story while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is planning today in Geneva to bring more Somali “refugees” to the West.

As I said in a previous post on Somalia and the arrival of peace there—we should have a repatriation project to encourage those well-educated and well-fed former Somali refugees to return to their homeland and fix it!

Here is Voice of America (Hammers replace bullets as Mogadishu rebuilds):

MOGADISHU — The emergence of peace in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has shaped the city for the better, giving it a new face. Residents are returning to and restoring their bullet-ridden homes and businesses after years of living in makeshift camps scattered in and out of the city.

The sound of hammers has replaced the sound of machine guns in the streets of Mogadishu. Construction is going on everywhere for new homes, hotels and shopping malls.  Businesses are thriving, government institutions are being renovated and building owners are reclaiming their property from squatters.

Hassan Sankay Ali, a sawmill owner in a district known as Kilometer Five, said there has been high demand for building materials, and due to that demand prices have risen.

People are coming out to buy building materials, Ali said. Most of the people coming to buy are either building new houses or renovating existing homes.


The economic boom is fueled by expatriates flocking back and investing millions of dollars. This provides jobs for thousands of young militiamen eager to get out of the killing business.

Mohamud Hareed Dagey came from London six months ago and opened a new restaurant near Lido Beach, and he also plans to build a hotel. He said more Somalis living abroad must return home to build the economy.

Yes indeed!