Syrian refugees continuing to resettle in western Massachusetts

Northampton is one of several cities accepting refugees this year.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 50 Syrian refugees are expected to resettle in Northampton within the next year.

These 51 refugees will join more than 100 refugees who resettled across Massachusetts just last year. Syrian refugees have been moving to Massachusetts since the Syrian civil war began five years ago.

The 22News I-Team obtained data from the Department of State and discovered the number of Syrian refugees that have resettled in the U.S. has increased drastically over the past six years.

Syrian Refugees in the United States

  • 2011- 28 refugees
  • 2012 – 31 refugees
  • 2013 – 36 refugees
  • 2014 – 105 refugees
  • 2015 – 1,682 refugees
  • 2016 – 12,500 refugees

The 22News I-Team also obtained financial data from the Massachusetts Office for Refugee Resettlement. In 2015, their budget was $21.4 million. Of that, about $20 million was funded by federal tax dollars, and the rest by our state budget. This money was used to fund 11 programs that local resettlement agencies use to help refugees during the resettlement process.

The largest portion of the Office for Refugee Resettlement’s budget, more than 50 percent, went to a program that helps unaccompanied refugee children moving to Massachusetts.

Catholic Charities is one of three local resettlement agencies in western Massachusetts.

Executive Director of Catholic Charities Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, told the 22News I-Team they consider several factors when deciding how many refugees will move to western Massachusetts, including capacity.

“Capacity would mean, ‘Do we have the services?,’ Do we have the people?, Do we have the resources?, Do we have the partnerships in the area that we are going to resettle?,” Buckley-Brawner said. “What are things like housing, schooling, employment.”

The 22News I-Team spoke exclusively with Ahmad, a Syrian refugee living in western Massachusetts through a translator. He told the I-Team leaving Syria was the only choice he had to save his family.

“He never expected that he would ever leave to the states or a country that doesn’t even speak his language, it was shock for him when he first arrived because it’s different people, different culture, different language , and different weather, and it took him a lot of time to adjust, and for his family to adjust to the United States,” Ahmed’s translator said.

The 22News I-Team gives you a more in-depth investigation on the status of Syrian refugees in our region.  Hear  more of the harrowing story of Ahmed, who escaped Syria with his family, and now calls western Massachusetts his home.

It’s a report you won’t want to miss, Monday, November 7 at 10pm on the CW-Springfield.

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