1998 NCC News Archives

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Church World Service Refugee Resettlement Work
Gets U.S. State Department Accolade

Who We Are

CWS works in more than 70 countries, including the U.S., in disaster relief, human development and refugee assistance. It is a ministry of the National Council of Churches, the nation’s preeminent ecumenical organization which includes 34 Protestant and Orthodox member communions with a combined membership of nearly 52 million.

NEW YORK, March 12, 1998 -- The U.S. State Department--for the first time--has ranked the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program number one among the ten national agencies involved in refugee resettlement.

"We are delighted at the recognition of all the hard work by staff, affiliates and denominational offices this past year," said Dr. Elizabeth Ferris, director of the Immigration and Refugee Program.

To carry out its evalutation, State Department representatives visited the CWS/IRP headquarters in New York City and three of its affiliates, in Arizona, Oregon and Miami, Fla.

In its evaluation, the State Department looks for measures such as a low rate of "out-migration"(a term meaning that an unsuccessful first placement prompts a refugee to migrate to another community) and a high rate at which refugees repay the travel loans that bring them to the U.S.

The criterion most important to the State Department concerns refugees whom it considers employable and who are not supported by relatives already in this country. Last year, over 90 percent of CWS-resettled refugees in this category found jobs within six months of arrival.

These State Department criteria "are not the only measures by which our service to refugees are evaluated," Dr. Ferris notes. CWS, which helped to resettle 5,073 refugees in U.S. communities in 1997, promotes a faithful approach to resettlement based on the biblical injunction to "welcome the stranger."


Writer: Wendy S. McDowell

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