Here is an article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it’s the kind of article that Refugee activists wanted to come out of the PR event we told you about last week—World Refugee Day, except for a little twist at the end.
After introductory paragraphs about music and dancing and how refugees are opening shops (with government supported micro-loans—NO they didn’t mention the micro-loans), and how Pittsburgh is such a magnet for refugees (because the State Department and contractors have tagged it—NO they didn’t mention that either), just that prosperous Pittsburgh is on the lips of refugees worldwide (or so we are led to believe).
Below is the section of the Post-Gazette story I want to bring to your attention because it contains some interesting facts (well, sort of facts) that might be useful in case any “pockets of resistance” might be interested in getting a start in Pennsylvania (we learned here in Lancaster that there was no resistance in welcoming PA):
According to the latest statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are approximately 15.4 million refugees in the world. Fewer than 1 percent of all refugees are resettled outside of the country to which they fled, according to the State Department.
From the small number who are approved for resettlement, the United States accepts more than half of these refugees. Then, nine national nongovernmental organizations work to resettle them. Of those nine, 350 affiliated offices around the country assist refugees during their first few months in the country, relying on a small amount of money from the U.S. government. [When originally designed in 1980 this was supposed to be a public-private partnership but over decades the public share has grown to sometimes 90% of the cost of resettling the refugees.—-ed]
But soon, refugees are on their own. [Basically they are pushed out on their own because their contractors only get paid to help them for a few months and want to move on to the next batch of paying clients—ed]
“When refugees come to the United States, they actually have to pay back their airfare to the U.S. government,” Ms. Rudiak said. “They’re expected to be self-sustaining in a period of six or seven months.” [This airfare business is an outrage! They aren’t all paying it back and those that do are helping fund the collection agency—the contractor who settled them—which gets to keep a portion of the money they wring out of refugees. It does not all go back to the federal treasury! So far the State Department refuses to release the exact numbers—ed]
Refugees often prefer Pittsburgh to other U.S. cities, said Kheir Mugwaneza, director of Community Assistance and Resettlement for the Northern Area Multi-Service Center, one of the four Pittsburgh NGOs that do resettlement. The others include Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Catholic Charities and Acculturation for Justice, Access & Peace Outreach, each of which has national affiliates in Washington, D.C. [Any citizens forming pockets of resistance must become familiar with the workings of the contractors—ed]
Mr. Mugwaneza said NAMS resettles about 200 people each year. The city’s decent job market and affordable housing help refugees become self-sustaining more quickly than elsewhere, he said. And many choose Pittsburgh as a second resettlement location, moving here from different U.S. cities once they hear about the opportunities, he said.
Then get this! Native Pittsburghers did not come out to celebrate diversity!
From hip-hop lyrics rapped in Swahili to native Bhutanese dances, Saturday’s celebration shed light on a few of Pittsburgh’s cultural offerings.
But a look around the room revealed a dearth of native Pittsburghers, which as Mr. Mugwaneza pointed out, hampered a main goal of the event: connecting Pittsburghers to the refugee community. He’s hopeful the event’s scope will expand next year.
Haji Muya, 21, a Somali refugee who grew up in Kenya in Kakuma, the world’s largest refugee camp, performed a few original raps for the second year at the event. He’s president of the music label LKF Entertainment, which stands for “Lil Kiziguwaz Family.” While he supports the diversity celebrated at the event, he agrees with Mr. Mugwaneza.
“If we’re promoting cultures, we need to have American culture next year,” he said. “It would be more diverse if the Americans came, too.”
Celebrate American culture too! What a novel idea!
For new readers, we have an archive on refugee problems in Pittsburgh here.