IRC closing MA offices as recession devestates refugee resettlement

(Ok, maybe not that long a hiatus.)

From the Boston Globe.

Rescue office’s closing puts refugees at a loss

Rising costs, lack of federal aid blamed

In their cramped apartment at the base of the Tobin Bridge, Jamal Al Samara, Iqbal Abid, and their three children don’t mind the rumbling of the traffic above or the occasional bang of a car crash. The Iraqi refugees learned to live with booms and other din at the home they abandoned in Baghdad.

What’s more distressing for the family – who moved to Chelsea eight months ago without a penny, with little English, and deep anxiety about living in such a different culture – is that in a month they will lose the one lifeline they’ve had since arriving in the United States.

The International Rescue Committee’s office in Boston, which over the last 30 years has helped settle more than 25,000 refugees, has told state officials it will close on June 1 – creating a vacuum in services for some of the region’s most vulnerable residents, and leaving hundreds of refugees like the Al Samara family to figure out where to turn for help with housing, medical care, food, jobs, and much more.

“This is terrible for us,” said Abid, who works 25 hours a week on the salad line at a Panera Bread in Boston, a job arranged by the International Rescue Committee. “Now, there will be no one to help us. We are afraid. We are here just a few months. We need more help.”

Officials at the New York-based organization said they had to close the Boston office, as well as satellite offices in Worcester and Lowell, because of insufficient aid from the federal government, rising local expenses, and a dwindling donor base. They’re in the process of firing what’s left of their 32-member staff statewide, cutting links to scores of volunteers, and transitioning their clients to other organizations.


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