SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Every minute, 20 people around the globe leave everything behind for safety and freedom.
According to the United Nations, more than 3 million refugees from all over the world have made the U.S. their new home since 1975, forced out of their home countries by persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.
The U.S. resettlement program is the largest in the world. According to the UN, 24,559 refugees resettled in the U.S. in 2017.
Missouri has welcomed nearly 18,000 refugees from 45 countries. In Springfield, 353 refugees have resettled. That’s not including those who moved here after being resettled in another city first. A large majority of refugees in Springfield are from Myanmar/Burma, followed by the Congo, Ukraine, Somalia, Vietnam, Iraq, and Moldova.
The UN says it takes about two years and involves eight US government agencies to get a refugee into the country. After applying, the person is recommended to the US and the government conducts a vetting process of each applicant.
June 20 is World Refugee Day and the Springfield-Greene County Library is celebrating the city’s new Americans with a series of events in the next few days.
Jenifer Abreu talked to Tysha Shay, with the Library Station, Rebekah Thomas with the International Institute of Southwest Missouri, the agency that helps refugees transition, and Wilondja Saidi, from Congo, who came to Springfield from a refugee camp in Kenya.
Watch their conversation in the video above.
Here’s what’s going on at Library Station to celebrate World Refugee Day.
Celebrate World Refugee Day and Welcome Your Neighbors:
World Refugee Day: “Warehoused” documentary & discussion
Thursday, June 20, 6:30-9 pm.
In the Frisco Room.
Explore the plight of long-term refugees through the lives of those living in Dadaab, Kenya, one of the world’s largest refugee camps.
A panel discussion of new Americans sharing their refugee resettlement experience in Springfield.
World Refugee Day Celebration
Saturday, June 22, 1-9 pm for all ages.
1-9 pm Create a community “welcome” banner that will hang in the lobby until September.
Visit the Children’s Department for special activities.
1 pm In the lobby: Korean drumming performance.
Enjoy a live performance of Korean drumming and singing by new Americans.
2-4 pm In the Frisco room: DIY welcome sign.
Create a pallet welcome sign for your home to make your neighbors feel welcome.
Registration starts June 10; call 616-0683.
6-8 pm In the Frisco room. “Salam Neighbor” documentary.
Immerse yourself into the life of a Syrian refugee through the journey of Chris and Zach as the first filmmakers allowed to be registered and given a tent inside of a refugee camp.
Sunday, June 23, 3 pm For age 2-grade 2 in the story hour room.
The library is a safe space to explore diversity, learn about empathy and teach tolerance.
Join us for stories, songs and other activities celebrating a land of opportunity.