Over the past few weeks, we have received many comments from community members expressing alarm, sadness and willingness to help relieve the desperate plight of Syrian and other refugees pouring into Europe.
The United States has a proud history of offering refuge to those most in need of safety and protection, and is committed to resettling approximately 70,000 refugees annually from around the world. This policy has been in place for many years. However, for many reasons, it can take years for an individual refugee to complete the entire process and come to the United States. Until now, only a limited number of Syrian refugees have been allowed to resettle in the US.
Currently, JF&CS is very active in resettling refugees approved by the United States government for resettlement in this country. These refugees primarily come from Burma, Bhutan, Iraq and Congo, as well as smaller numbers of individuals from other countries.
Locally, JF&CS is the leading agency in providing a wide range of resettlement, social, legal and employment services to thousands of refugees and immigrants throughout the region. JF&CS’s refugee services staff work to resettle refugees arriving in Pittsburgh directly from overseas, providing for their basic needs and integration into our community and workforce, as well as providing support to refugees coming to Pittsburgh who had been resettled originally in other U.S. cities. Our staff ensures that from the moment of arrival, families receive the most basic needs of food and shelter, and then continue to offer essential assistance through case management, cultural orientation, employment, legal immigration and additional areas of support.
JF&CS staff also provides additional services to help refugees acclimate to our region. At sites throughout Pittsburgh, our staff helps refugees with reading mail, bill-paying, scheduling appointments and more. Additionally, JF&CS is the lead agency in a six agency collaboration called Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC). This program ensures immigrants and refugees are able to access existing social and community services, among other things.
At this time, Syrian refugees are still overseas. If and when they arrive in Pittsburgh, JF&CS will provide resettlement and a continuum of post-resettlement services. We do this work under the auspices of the international Jewish agency HIAS (formerly Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society). HIAS, and others doing this work (many of them faith-based), operate under directives from U.S. Department of State. Refugee resettlement is a U.S-sponsored and U.S- funded program.
HIAS has asked us to convey the following message to the community regarding refugee resettlement and the Syrian crisis:
HIAS is leading efforts to encourage the government to raise the cap on the number of refugees it commits to resettle here in the U.S.–so that Syrians fleeing their country have a safe place to call home.
Right now, the world’s single largest refugee population is Syrians, and their need is great.
Here’s how you can help:
- Sign the HIAS petition calling on the President to take bold action to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees into the United States this year, to provide considerable humanitarian assistance to aid refugees abroad and to address the root causes of the crisis. Click here to add your name.
- Contact JF&CS to volunteer. We may not need your assistance immediately, but we’ll be able to reach out to you when we do need your support. Send an email with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “Volunteer to Help Refugees.”
- Donate to JF&CS to help us continue to provide vulnerable refugees and immigrants with the supports they need to rebuild their lives. Click here to donate to JF&CS online and choose “Special Appeal–Refugee & Immigration Services” under the donation designation section.
- Stay informed about global refugee developments by visiting www.hias.org and stay connected on a local level by following news and info from JF&CS’s refugee department on Facebook.
- Forward this e-newsletter. In this moment, the need for us to raise our voices on behalf of Syrian refugees is critical. Please help us by forwarding this e-mail to family, friends, coworkers and others who are looking for ways to help.
We can’t do this without you.