Funding for refugees often falls short

Funding for refugees often falls short

BALTIMORE (WUSA9) - Even those who’ve made it into the United States are finding that it’s extremely difficult to start over.

The State Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration allots $2,075 for each refugee. Of that, roughly half goes to the resettlement agency.

The rest goes to the refugee who gets a one time payment of roughly a thousand dollars.

That money is intended to cover their first 90 days of expenses, including rent, utilities, food, clothing and furniture.

In addition to struggling to make ends meet, many refugees are learning that affordable housing and safety don’t always go together. 

Mohammad doesn't want us to use his last name or show his face because he fears for his safety.

"I just want to feel safe," he said.

But fear of violence keeps Mohammad and his family holed up in a tiny apartment in a gritty Baltimore neighborhood.

"There’s no safety, whatsoever after 5 o’clock."

His teenage son was badly beaten in an attempted robbery.

With no car, Mohammad, his wife and their five children stay inside.

They thought they’d left violence and fear behind six months ago when they fled Syria.

"It was a constant killing every day."

But a different type of violence and fear have followed them six thousand miles, to Baltimore, in the place our government has resettled them.

He says, "It has been very difficult."

Here, the American dream feels painfully out of reach.

"I was expecting to work. I never sat down for this long, doing nothing."

Mohammad is desperate for a job, desperate to provide for his wife and five children, ages 3 to 14.

In Syria, he was a driver. Here, he’s one of thousands of refugees, struggling to learn English, and starting over.

Lubana Al Quntar with Free Syria Foundation translated our interview and understands his despair.

"Oh my God, I was traumatized. I was shocked," said Al Quntar.

She came to America six years ago.

"I was completely in another place. My mind was in Syria. And my body was here," she said.

With patience and determination, she made it and says there is hope for Mohammad.

Mohammad has been struggling to find work for the last six months. His life savings have dwindled to just $800.  

Mohammad tells WUSA9 once he gets a steady job, he hopes to move his family to a safer area.

More Syrian refugees have been resettled in Baltimore than any other city in Maryland.

You can search Refugee Admissions and Arrivals by State, Nationality and Religion at the Refugee Processing Center.

The UN Refugee Agency has Refugee Resettlement Facts

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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