U.S. Reaches its Refugee Admissions Target for the First Time Since 1980

Media Note Office of the Spokesperson Washington, DC October 21, 2013 The United States announced today it brought 69,930 refugees to safety and new lives in the United States in fiscal year 2013. That number is closer to the authorized ceiling – 70,000 in 2013 – than in any year since 1980. Reaching this threshold is a demonstration of the Administration’s efforts to create a refugee admissions program which meets the important security screening standards required by the American people and the growing humanitarian need. The United States has a strong tradition of welcoming refugees, many of whom have fled unspeakable horrors and persecution. The Obama Administration is committed to maintaining a strong refugee admissions program as an integral component of our effort to offer protection to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Their presence makes our country more diverse, our culture richer, and our national character stronger. For … Continue reading

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Displacement in Syria

By 2014, latest analysis estimates that 7 million inhabitants of Syria will be displaced and 10 million will need medical aid.  This link will show a picture of one of the rapidly set up refugee camps of 160,000.  To get an idea of the scope of this current crisis, in 2011, the estimate of refugees worldwide was a total of 15.4 million.  Of those 15.4 million, less than a 1/2 percent is resettled into another country in any given year.  Of those resettled, the US is the destination for the most resettled refugees.  In 2013, President Obama and congress agreed to resettle 70,000 refugees, and for the first time in 33 years, we are hitting that exact ceiling of 70,000 this year. We don’t know what resettlement will look like for refugees out of Syria.  Ideally, people can return home, and the next option is for their new home, where they have fled to, to become legally and … Continue reading

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Winter is Coming!

Some of our clients have begun requesting winter coats, and we can already see shortages in winter clothing.  Please consider donating clean winter clothing. As a reminder, we accept warm winter outwear only – coats, snow pants, snow boots, hats, mittens, gloves – not sweaters or other clothing. We are also COMPLETELY OUT of the following items! -dish soap (new) -laundry detergent (new) -sponges (new) -serving trays -can openers -slotted spoons -spatulas and other cooking utensils -diapers (all sizes, partial packages okay) New families must “buy” all of these items from our inventory at in-store prices. We save our refugee families LOTS of money by keeping our donation area full of needed items. Donated towels, for example, save $5/family member. A set of sheets will save a family up to $20/bed in the household. For a complete list of items we accept, click on the ‘getting involved’ tab, and follow … Continue reading

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Gearing Up for Next Year

Refugee Services operates on the federal calendar which begins on October 1st. Because we’ve been resettling at such a high rate, we are close to our max of 10% over our allocated refugees to our agency. The next month or so, we may have a rare opportunity to shore up some donations and prepare for the next year.   Currently, we most urgently need: Blankets of all sizes Comforters of all sizes Pillow cases Twin size sheet sets Frying pans Can openers Small plastic food storage containers with lids.   If you have such precious items to donate, please drop them off at: 122 W. Franklin Ave, suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55404.   Also, if you have any time to brainstorm, we’d love suggestions on shoring up supplies (especially blankets) in a more sustainable fashion.  Please email us at: rsvolunteers@mnchurches.org    

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Bon Voyage Abdirizak!

     Friends, yesterday we said our farewells to a valued friend in case manager Abdirizak Ali.  Needless to say, Abdirizak’s departure is a huge loss for all of us in Refugee Services. Since he started working with MCC in April of 2006, Abdirizak has brought so many skills to his work with us and with refugee families –  his sense of humor, his energy, his cultural insights, his determined advocacy within oppressive systems, his problem-solving “magic” in the community, his ability to charm the uncharm-able, his commitment to his co-workers, his pride in the work of MCC, and most of all, his ENORMOUS heart and devotion to making life better for those he has worked with as case manager. In his almost 9 years in roles as Resettlement Case Aide, Refugee Supportive Housing Network Case Manager, and Refugee Program Specialist: Resettlement, he has touched the lives of literally thousands people … Continue reading

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Getting Connected through Simple Acts of Caring

     It is amazing the kind of connections people can make when they care.  Caring and advocacy go hand-in-hand, and when all else falls apart, love covers over a multitude of faults.  Recently, one of our co-sponsors shared a few examples of how she and her team cared for one of our new refugee families.  Generally, her descriptions about the resilience, problem-solving ability and tenacity of her family has provided inspiration for many on our team here at MCC Refugee Services.     The Alma family had gotten close to Sharon (perhaps riding around with the convertible-top down helped).  In this season of Ramadan, many Muslims are fasting from sun-up to sun-down, and to help pass some of the time, Sharon started reading a story to the siblings.  Sharon read from the great storybook of Harry Potter.  She also insisted that one of the brothers, Ahmed, watch the words she was … Continue reading

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Iranian Rice–Tahdig

We recently learned about this delicious dish from a co-worker and wanted to share it with you. Tahdig is rice that’s been par-boiled, then slowly steamed so it develops a crunchy crust on the bottom. This can be served with all kinds of stews and fillings. Head on over to Turmeric and Saffron for the full recipe, photos and instructions…

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Knit one, Purl two…Refugee women knit and heal

Zahara Said, Knitting group, 6-28-12-- RELEASE

In a supportive, welcoming space, ten women meet weekly and over tea and knitting, but this isn’t just any knitting circle. Bringing together newly arrived refugees and church volunteers, women knit, but they also practice yoga and talk about what is happening in their lives. The women make new friendships, learn from each other’s experiences, and help each other. Mental health professionals and social service providers also attend on occasion to make services available in an informal setting through trusted connections. In 2008, MCC Refugee Services convened a Refugee Healing Resources Workgroup to explore how to better meet the mental health needs of refugees. The workgroup observed a number of gaps in services and confirmed MCC’s fear that connecting refugees to mainstream mental health services can be difficult. This working group gave rise to the idea for a refugee knitting collective. With the help of volunteers, the Knitting Collective provides … Continue reading

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Recipe: Coconut Chicken Curry (Somalia)

Consider trying this mouth-watering yogurt coconut chicken curry recipe from Somalia. The yogurt helps tenderize the meat and most of the spices are probably already in your pantry! Ingredients: Serves 8 ½ c. Canola oil 2 Onions 2 Large garlic cloves 1 T Fresh ginger, grated 1 T Cumin Powder 1 T Curry powder 1 tsp Turmeric powder ¼ tsp Cardamom powder 1 T Vegeta seasoning or 2 bouillon cubes (Maggi, Knorr etc.) or 2 tsp salt 5 Tomatoes 2 Jalapeno peppers (or to taste) – Remove the seeds if you do not like it very spicy 1 c. Plain yogurt 2 T Tomato paste 1 Potato, cubed 1 Carrot, chopped 1 Sweet red pepper, chopped 2 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (cubed) 1 can Coconut milk 1 T Brown sugar (packed) 3 T Butter or ghee (optional) 1 c. Cilantro (chopped) 1. Blend the onions and garlic, then saute in the oil for 5 … Continue reading

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Unique partnership helps welcome home new refugees

Abdi stepped off the plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by himself and looked around for the way to baggage claim. He was apprehensive and scared—not only had he traveled all the way from Kenya by himself, but he was a young man with no family or friends in Minnesota. Would anyone be there to meet him at the bottom of the stairs? For a newly arriving single refugee, arriving alone to the United States with few or no personal connections to Minnesota can be a frightening experience.  Finding affordable housing for single refugee arrivals can also be a challenge when arrivals have few or no family connections with whom to stay, either temporarily or long term. This spring, MCC Refugee Services initiated a unique partnership with Urban Homeworks , a  Minneapolis based non-profit housing organization, to address the challenges of social connection and housing for newly arriving single refugee … Continue reading

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