There is a “breakdown at many levels” said Church World Serviceemployee Adamou Mohamed.
Did you hear the news about the five children from the DR Congo who died in an apartment fire in Greensboro, North Carolina just over a week ago?
Probably not because stories showing the unhappy side of refugee resettlement are rarely seen outside the immediate locale.
In a tense community meeting last week, the blame for the children’s deaths was placed on the city and on the landlord, all assuming the fire was from landlord and city inspector neglect.
Here are a few snips from the story on that meeting from the local News & Record:
At tense meeting about deadly Greensboro apartment fire, city says it will inspect complex
GREENSBORO — As Greensboro officials, refugee advocates and immigrants gathered days after the deaths of five children in an apartment fire, many people voiced concerns that the city’s deadliest fire in nearly two decades could have been prevented.
“We shouldn’t have had to come to this point,” said community activist Sandra Isley, as others wiped away tears and some trembled in anger during a meeting of the Greensboro International Advisory Committee, which works with the city’s Human Relations Department.
City officials did announce during the meeting that housing inspectors would go door-to-door early next week at the 3100 Summit Ave. complex to conduct inspections on every unit. Beth Benton, the city’s Code Compliance manager, said that action was possible after five residents — the minimum necessary to take action — had signed a petition.
Fire investigators have yet to determine a cause of the Saturday morning fire, but say it started in the kitchen and they are analyzing the unit’s stove. The apartment had no working smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
The city’s action comes amid claims that the children’s father reported several small fires near the apartment’s stove to management in the days before the tragedy. It is unclear who the father might have notified about the problems with the stove, but the building’s owners said they had no repair request on file.
“There’s a breakdown at many levels for this to happen,” said Adamou Mohamed***, a grassroots organizer for Church World Service, an immigration and refugee program.
Others around him questioned why it has taken so long for the city to get involved.
Resettlement agencies place refugees in cheap apartments and help to build ethnic enclaves….
The North Carolina African Services Coalition placed the family there 18 months ago, when they arrived from the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a resettlement program. But the agency has since stopped setting up homes there because of complaints about living conditions. Officials with the resettlement agencies say the complex remained attractive to refugees because of the low rent and because it allowed them to live with others who speak their language or understand their customs. Several units there are rented by members of this same family.
Officials have yet to identify the family other than to say the children who died were three boys and two girls between the ages of 18 months and 9 years old. The husband, who works at a local factory, was home with the children but could not get them out.
And here we have the final informative bit of news—Mom was working the night shift for BIG CHICKEN!
If you are new to RRW, you may not know that refugee contractors, including Church World Service, act as headhunters for the meat industry in places like North Carolina.
The wife was working the overnight shift at a chicken plant several counties away. She commutes there with a group of others who share the cost of the drive.
***You really need to see the bio for Church World Service’s community organizerwho was clearly leading the charge and attempting to stoke anger with claims of government neglect before all the facts were in. Why does a taxpayer-funded resettlement agency need a political community organizer (aka community trouble-maker) in the first place?
Adamou Mohamed’s bio at Welcoming Americais informative….