Friday, September 02, 2005

Accomodating Refugees with Dignity and Safety

I'm very concerned about the crowding which is occuring in shelters in Baton Rouge and Houston and in other regional cities and towns which have been welcoming refugees. They are already being overwhelmed by the numbers. The Astrodome closed its doors once it was full, then reopened them because they couldn't bear to turn people away. But there are no more beds and conditions are already overcrowded.

We must find ways to accommodate refugees in dignity and safety. There should be no need for them to go from the awfulness they've experienced to overcrowding and discomfort in longer term shelters. The way to do this properly is for every US city to open its doors immediately to evacuees. Houston has said it will take 25,000 (I think they've now upped that number). Other Texas cities are taking thousands. But we need to spread this burden out. Baton Rouge has tens of thousands here. These people are not going to be displaced just for a week or two. They'll need shelter and care and more for months, and if we dump that burden purely on regional cities it will make life miserable for the refugees and their host cities.

But if it gets spread out across the country, it should not be a burden. I was wondering: Is there any way we can encourage our cities to take on refugees now; to have some quick campaign to encourage cities across the country to become a home away from home for New Orleanians? Does anyone have any thinking on this? -Rose