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Refugees

Refugees

Refugee Resettlement is a humanitarian effort of the United States government and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees in collaboration with national, state and local organizations. Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Inc. has always been engaged in the humanitarian aid to refugees, starting with the finding of foster homes for 43 Cuban refugee children in 1962. In 1972 at the request of the United States Catholic Conference, the agency’s Refugee Resettlement Program was formally established and primarily served refugees fleeing political turmoil in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. By 1995, over 10,000 refugees had received help through Catholic Charities. To date, services have been provided to refugees of many different faiths from more than 35 countries, though the majority of our current clients have been displaced from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Somalia, Eritrea, Cuba, DR Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Refugees are individuals who have had to leave their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution. Specifically, they are targeted because of their religious or political beliefs, their social standing or membership in a particular social class. Refugees must flee their countries to escape persecution or death, usually leaving with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They often live in refugee camps for years enduring harsh weather, small rations of food, and little or no health care or education. Refugees arrive in the United States with usually just a small duffle bag of belongings. Within just a few months, however, most refugees are completely self-sufficient. Through their hard work and drive to succeed, studies show that after ten years, refugees are as well off as native-born Americans.