Manlius The average stay in a refugee camp is 17 years, and members of St. Anne’s Church in Manlius are doing their part to bring that number down. The Refugee Project Committee at the church has been working since January to collect everything from tissues, to sofas to silverware to furnish an apartment on Syracuse’s North Side for a refugee family to move in by early May.
St. Anne’s actually sponsored an Eastern European family about ten years ago, and in early January of 2013, members of the church decided that they wanted to get involved in the refugee resettlement program, run through the Northside CYO, once again. Kate Holmes, the volunteer coordinator with refugee resettlement at the Northside CYO, explained that the process in which a family goes through to end up in the program is often lengthy and unfavorable.
The Northside CYO works with the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which works directly with the United Nations in refugee camps around the world. She said that when a refugee is displaced from his or her home country for war or human rights violations, many times their government will try to exterminate them, which is why they are displaced from their home country.
More often than not, the person and their family will end up in a refugee camp. They then have to obtain refugee status, which is a lengthy process done through the U.N. and the CSCCB. One they get refugee status, if the family chooses to resettle, USCCB will decide where to place them.
The Northside CYO is responsible for finding housing for the families coming into Syracuse, but nearly everything else is up to the sponsor. St. Anne’s volunteers will be helping to acclimate the family once they arrive in Syracuse and beyond- they’ll be doing everything from greeting them at the airport, to accompanying them to doctor’s appointments, to helping them find jobs.