The process to help refugees resettle in the Syracuse area could be a little easier on the people and families that have come from places such as Sudan, Bosnia, and other troubled countries.
A study by the Onondaga Citizens League suggests a one-stop location for the various services needed would help. The Gifford Foundation’s Heidi Holtz says the services needed by the individuals and families moving in could go more smoothly
“If we could establish a one stop shop, or a single refugee assistance center, and the case managers from the agencies would have office space there, and the police might have office hours there and the community-based associations made up of the refugee groups could have offices there, so the refugee would have a single location to come to.”
Holtz helped chair the study and says an alliance is already meeting.
“Refugee leaders, this would be the agencies, this would be the police, it would be the school district, literacy, jobs health, all the people we touched on in the study. And the Gifford Foundation is convening that group.”
Holtz says the two main resettlement agencies already work together well. But there could be better awareness raised of the people and cultures coming into our community. Holtz found the experiences of the refugees themselves varies.
“Many of the refugees themselves have said the feel extremely welcomed here. In fact we have refugees who were settled in elsewhere in the country and leave their original site of resettlement to come to Syracuse. Then there are anecdotal stories about populations that are questioned and challenged more.”
BASIC STATISTICS ON REFUGEES IN SYRACUSE
- A total of 7201 refugees have settled here since 2001.
- Refugees have come from 39 other countries, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Palestine and Cuba.
- The highest numbers of refugees have come from Burma, Bhutan, and Somalia, with 1666, 1145 and 972 between 2001 and 2011.
The “World at Our Doorstep Study” is at OnondagaCitizensLeague.org