A WORLDWIDE CRISIS
Worldwide, some 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Almost 26 million of that number are refugees, half of whom are under 18. These are the highest levels of displacement on record. People become refugees because their home land has been torn apart by war. Or they are forced to leave because of religious, political or ethnic persecution. Sometimes natural disasters causing social collapse and famine drive people from their homes.
Refugees typically spend months or years in temporary or quasi-permanent refugee camps. They may eventually be permitted to relocate to a country where they can live without danger. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) assists refugees by recommending them for resettlement in developed countries as part of finding a durable solution to their needs. The United States accepts refugees after a lengthy clearance process overseen by the U.S. Department of State.
NEW HAMPSHIRE'S REFUGEES
Since the early 1980s, more than 7,500 refugees have been resettled in New Hampshire. New Hampshire refugees come from over 30 countries, but most are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, escaping from its deadly civil wars, and from Bhutan and Myanmar, forced out by “ethnic cleansing.”
NH Office of Health Equity - Data about refugees in New Hampshire.
Welcoming New Hampshire - Information, News, and Resources.
Council on Foreign Relations: Eastern Congo- information about the conflict and humanitarian crisis, which has created millions of refugees.
Refugees and asylum seekers have experienced war, persecution, social abuse, genocide, famine in their home lands. Many have lost people they love. They come to this country carrying their traumatic memories, having also endured refugee camps and a lengthy and uncertain vetting process to qualify for resettlement. Their difficult past increases the already significant challenge of adapting to a very different culture.
In Africa and other places of origin, ethnic groups and tribes are or were in conflict with each other. Refugees from all sides of these conflicts have been settled here in New Hampshire. They now share apartment complexes and work places. Their children share schools. The adults still have fear and distrust inside.
As Overcomers staff work with refugees one on one, they help our clients reconsider old biases and anger. When clients make derogatory or accusatory comments about other tribes, nations or cultures, our staff share their own experiences of being harmed and enduring tragedies during the conflicts. Our staff tell their personal stories to help our clients open up and talk about their experiences so they can start to recover from them. Our staff model a way to heal. In addition to one on one help, Overcomers also offers 101 sessions to help shift refugee clients toward forgiveness and acceptance so that all can feel safe and focus on rebuilding their lives.
Overcomers invests in peace building among diverse African and immigrant groups in NH so they can provide support to each other. We do this through cross-cultural meetings (social and educational) and by engaging community elders and tribal leaders in efforts to coordinate between respective groups, finding common ground so similar needs within each group can be addressed together.
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