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Centralized information might help newly arrived refugees

Onondaga Citizens League

A new study finds that agencies in central New York do a good job of taking care of the 700-800 refugees who come to Syracuse every year. One community group is suggesting creating a one-stop shop for these newly-arrived residents.

A year-long study by the Onondaga Citizens League shows that the agencies that deal with Syracuse's burgeoning refugee population do work together and offer a wide range of services to refugees. But OCL Co-Chair Kristen Mucitelli-Heath says one recommendation that came out of the year-long look at the resettlement programs in Syracuse, is creating one physical location for refugees to get information and help.

"A forum or one location where everyone could co-locate programs and services, provide an easy access point for refugees, transportation is another big issue they face," said Mucitelli-Heath. "Provide one central point where where they could access employment services, access literacy services, access cooking classes, access social support programs. That would be incredibly useful."

Heath says it wouldn't mean moving the two main service providers for refugees, Interfaith Works or Catholic Charities. The study also suggests creating a website that would be available to refugees and service providers, and a continuation of a task force that would look at the challenges facing refugees today.

The report shows that most of the refugees in recent years in the Syracuse area come from Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, South Sudan and Iraq. They arrive after spending sometimes ten to 12 years in a refugee camp.  

Mucitelli-Heath hopes a task force continues to study the integration of these refugees into central New York.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.