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CT organization that helps refugees responds to attacks in Syria

Connecticut typically welcomes hundreds of refugees to the state every year, many coming from Syria.News of in...

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 7:34 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 7:34 PM

Connecticut typically welcomes hundreds of refugees to the state every year, many coming from Syria.

News of increased attacks and violence in the country hits the local community hard.

"They are constantly reminded of the suffering of their friends and family back in Syria," said Chris George, who is the executive director of IRIS, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, in New Haven.

They're far from their home, but not far from the reality.

"They're Skyping with friends who are hearing the explosions of the shelling or bombing nearby," George said.

Syrian refugees in Connecticut are anxiously following the news of joint airstrikes following a suspected chemical attack on civilians in their homeland.

"Many of them say things like it's a little too late and it's too little. Others say what's the message to Assad, and people commented that killing is killing," George said.

IRIS, the refugee resettlement agency, helps individuals and families settle across the state. They welcome refugees who were selected and vetted by the U.S. government overseas.

"I think they have accepted that the international community, including the United States, is really not going to do too much to intervene and stop the bloodshed," George said.

He added while a military response is needed, it cannot be the only response.

"We have an obligation as a country to take action when people are using chemical weapons. Absolutely, but it should be action that is taken after discussion and approval from Congress. It's a horrible humanitarian crisis. Personally, I'd like to see more than just a military response," he said.

George says Connecticut welcomed an influx of more than 1,000 refugees two years ago, but new federal policies caused a drastic drop in that number since then.

The U.S. has only welcomed 11 Syrian refugees this year.

There are five million in the world.

George says agencies like IRIS are ready and able to help if given the opportunity.

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