We’re now in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since World War II. About 50 percent Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million are either listed as refugees with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees or displaced within the country and trying to get out now. Countries across the world are stepping up to help. Just this week, President Obama ordered his administration to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees for resettlement in the United States in the next fiscal year. Wayne Rieley, CEO of Lutheran Social Services, addressed these issues, and more, in several pieces in local TV and print media this week.
Florida Times-Union reporter Andrew Pantazi spoke with Rieley and LSS refugee services team member Ayad Shamsaldin about the Syrian crisis, LSS’ history of refugee resettlement, and how we will help Syrian refugees when they begin arriving. Rieley and Shamsaldin also appeared in a segment on First Coast News. Shamsaldin, who came to the U.S. from Iraq two years ago, is a case worker who works with refugees during their first three months in the country. Rieley also spoke with WJXT4′s Ashley Mitchem this morning.
LSS has been welcoming refugees to Jacksonville for over 35 years, so unfortunately, these stories and images of suffering are not new to us. The good news is that we are experienced and know how to help, and with our network of supporters and community partners we are ready to do everything we can for Syrian families when they begin arriving. The tragedies we’ve seen on the news recently involving Syrian families are haunting, and our hearts go out to all of these people seeking safety and peace and a better life for their children. We look forward to being able to do our part to welcome any of them that end up being resettled in Jacksonville.