refugees | KUOW News and Information

refugees

In the middle of the desert in Kenya, there's a place with a population the size of Minneapolis, called Dadaab.

It's no ordinary city. This is the largest refugee camp in the world, home to nearly half a million people. Most came from Somalia, escaping the civil war that began in the early 1990s.

Ben Rawlence spent years working in the camp — first with Human Rights Watch, then as a journalist. He just published a book called City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp.

In the middle of the desert in Kenya, there's a place with a population the size of Minneapolis, called Dadaab.

It's no ordinary city. This is the largest refugee camp in the world, home to nearly half a million people. Most came from Somalia, escaping the civil war that began in the early 1990s.

Ben Rawlence spent years working in the camp — first with Human Rights Watch, then as a journalist. He just published a book called City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter said he has received reassurances from the federal government about the adequacy of vetting of refugees from the war-torn Middle East.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced Thursday that the state is suing the U.S. government over the settlement of Syrian refugees. The lawsuit, filed in federal court, accuses the Obama administration of violating the Refugee Act of 1980 by not consulting states on the placement of refugees.

Ralph Munro, Washington's former secretary of state, blows bubbles with Vietnamese refugees. Gov. Dan Evans asked Munro to find out more about the refugees, so he went to Camp Pendleton in California in 1975.
Courtesy of Ralph Munro

This story was first published April 9, 2015.  

Dan Evans was furious.

So furious he cursed (and he was not someone who swore).

It was 1975 and the Washington state governor had picked up the morning paper and read that Gov. Jerry Brown of California had said Vietnamese refugees wouldn’t be welcome in his state.

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Mohammad Qais Rahmani 

This year, many journalists have spent time analyzing the huge wave of new migrants arriving in Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

It can be easy to forget the human stories behind that movement of people. But for some BBC journalists the story has come much closer to home.

Much closer.

Rustam Qobil is a reporter on the BBC’s Uzbek language service. One of his former colleagues is the young Afghan journalist Sayara Samadi.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

The photo of a 3-year-old child named Aylan Kurdi, face-down on a Turkish beach, has become emblematic of the suffering of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war.

Ranj Abudlsamad in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

Bill Radke speaks with Ranj Abdulsamad about coming to Seattle as a refugee in 2012 and how he now helps other refugees adjust to live in America. 

This Iranian refugee family was resettled in Kent this year. It's their first Christmas in the U.S.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

Princess dolls, race cars and bicycles with training wheels. Those are a few of the gifts handed out to hundreds of families in Kent this week. Many were immigrants and refugees, and for some it will be their first Christmas here in the U.S.

Canada's new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to bring in 25,000 Syrians within a matter of months, but it's not just his government that's handling the massive task of resettling the refugees.

Across Canada, churches, communities and businesses are all pitching in, as are many individuals, who are privately sponsoring Syrian families and covering most of their needs for the first year.

The national debate about whether or not to welcome refugees from the war-torn Middle East was hashed out again in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate. In Twin Falls, Idaho, conservative activists are not just talking about the issue, they're taking action.

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Todd Karol

What was it about Canada this year? A new prime minister (headed this week to Washington)? An attempt at taking already legendary niceness up a notch? These stories caught our eye — in a good way.

1. New prime minister makes waves

Bringing Syrian refugees to the U.S. has become an especially contentious issue. In Canada, however, they're being welcomed with open arms.

Roughly 600 Syrians from refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon will arrive by plane in Canada this evening. They're the first of 25,000 Syrians the new Canadian government wants to resettle by the end of February.

Mario, an 18-year-old refugee from Eritrea, outside his host home in Burien. Mario and his siblings each picked out a bike of their own, thanks to a donation to World Relief.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

A pot of lentils simmers in the kitchen of an upscale home in Burien. Two teen brothers and their two younger sisters keep watch.

They’re Eritrean refugees, part of a family of nine staying with Carleen Kennedy. Kennedy has opened her home to refugees since 1975.

The House has overwhelmingly voted to tighten the program that allows citizens of 38 nations to travel to the U.S. without obtaining a visa. The measure, which passed the House 407-19 and is supported by President Obama, will now require visas for anyone who has traveled to Iraq or Syria in the past five years.

Jewish and Christian leaders are urging elected officials to show compassion to refugees, amidst public debate over allowing Syrian refugees into the country.

A letter released on Wednesday by several leading evangelical Christian churches and other groups calls on elected officials to show "compassion and hospitality" to refugees fleeing violence.

The Obama administration has announced some changes to the visa waiver program, which allows travelers from some 38 countries including France, Belgium and other European countries, to come to the U.S. without a visa.

The White House announced several steps, including attempting better tracking of past travel, fines for airlines that don't verify passport data, assisting other countries on the screening of refugees and with border security.

Alison Terry-Evans

When the boat arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos, his wife was dead.

Some 100 refugees have died trying to make the treacherous crossing from Turkey to Lesbos, including more than 60 on one tragic night in October, when a trawler sank in high seas. The dangers are well known, but people keep coming. More than 725,000 refugees have arrived in Greece by sea this year alone — 425,000 of them at Lesbos.

Bill Radke talks with Vancovuer Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Canada's response to the Syrian refugee crisis. President Obama says he wants to admit 10,000 Syrians in the next year, but the Canadian government says it wants to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February. 

The Alhamdan family -- two parents and six children -- arrived recently in Seattle from Syria. They are joining a tiny community of 25 recent Syrian refugees.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The Washington State Republican Party is accusing Governor Jay Inslee of distorting history when it comes to his open-door policy toward Syrian refugees following the Paris terror attacks.

Inslee has said we should continue slowly resettling Syrian refugees into the U.S. and Washington. To bolster his case, Inslee used the example of Vietnamese refugees who were welcomed here in the 1970s by then-governor Dan Evans.

How right is that comparison? And how should we balance American values in a time of fear?

Bill Radke talks these issues over with Washington state GOP chair Susan Hutchison, former Washington Governor Dan Evans and Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott.

Some Oregon and Washington lawmakers have called for at least a temporary halt to refugee resettlement. They want the federal government to beef up its screening process. But White House officials said in a conference call with reporters Monday that the process is already rigorous.

Syrian refugees Yazan Al-Salkini, 19, center, and brother Nabil, 14, left, hand out water to the homeless in downtown Seattle.
KUOW photo/Liz Jones

The debate about resettling Syrian refugees has some people asking, “Why don’t we use that money on homeless veterans instead?”

We asked homeless veterans in downtown Seattle what they thought.

'Week in Review' panel Joni Balter, Eli Sanders, Knute Berger, Bill Radke and Nick Bond.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Governor Jay Inslee puts Washington at the center of a national debate over Syrian refugees. The FDA says GMO salmon is safe for you and safe for the fish, but will you eat it? And if you're a Democrat but not a socialist, how progressive are you, really?

Bill Radke reviews the week's news with Crosscut's Knute Berger, The Stranger's Eli Sanders, Joni Balter of Seattle Channel's Civic Cocktail and  special guests state climatologist Nick Bond and Council of American-Islamic Relations-Washington executive director Arsalan Bukhari.

Pro-refugee demonstrators disrupted a planned rally at the Washington state Capitol Friday against allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

Ezra Stoller.

Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, Virginia, doesn't want any Syrians resettled in his community. He suggested US officials draw inspiration for how to deal with Syrians from how Japanese Americans were treated during World War II. He even lauded the internment camps many Japanese Americans were confined to during the war.

With the news that one of the Paris attackers may have entered Europe posing as a refugee from Syria, more than half of American governors are now objecting to Syrian refugees being resettled in their states. On Tuesday, White House officials hosted a call with 34 governors to better explain current security screening measures. And this week, some members of Congress have called on the Obama administration to stop or at least pause the resettlement program until refugees can be properly vetted.

The Alhamdan family -- two parents and six children -- arrived recently in Seattle from Syria. They are joining a tiny community of 25 recent Syrian refugees.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The debate about Syrian refugees continues to gain force. And more Northwest politicians are taking sides, as KUOW’s Liz Jones reports.

Jay Inslee says he won't join the growing list of governors who say they don't want Syrian refugees within their state borders.

In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, the governor of Washington state publicly welcomed refugees, citing the inscription on the Statue of Liberty, warning fellow governors against "fear," and insisting that background checks minimize whatever risk the refugees may pose.

Will The Paris Attack Change How We See Refugees?

Nov 17, 2015
Members of the Alhamdan family arrived at Sea-Tac Airport recently. They joined a tiny community of about 25 Syrian refugees who've arrived in Washington in the past few years.
Liz Jones/KUOW Public Radio

Should the U.S. suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees because one of the Paris attackers reportedly entered Europe with the recent flood of people fleeing ISIS?

At least 31 U.S. governors say yes. Not Gov. Jay Inslee – he said Washington state will keep welcoming the refugees.

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