The Refugee Crisis comes to the Upstate

Burma, otherwise known as Myanmar, is in the middle of a major refugee crisis

Burma, otherwise known as Myanmar, is in the middle of a major refugee crisis

Caleb Ecarma, Staff Writer

The Obama administration, in coalition with the United Nations, has decided to increase the number of refugees in the United States from 70,000 to 100,000 by 2017. With the combative turmoil in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of refugees worldwide fleeing their homeland has skyrocketed. 

The state of South Carolina is contributing in this global emergency. Obama has pledged that the U.S. will take in at least 10,000 refugees this year alone. Of those 10,000 refugees, a number will find themselves in the upstate of South Carolina.

World Relief, a faith-based nonprofit organization, is helping many of these displaced refugees find new homes. They also assist refugees in supplying furnishings for their homes and finding communities to be a part of. 

Jason Lee, the Director of the World Relief Spartanburg office, said, “Our mission is to empower the local church to stand for the vulnerable. So what Jesus lays out in Matthew 25, doing ministry to the least of these, so standing for the vulnerable for us is helping churches by empowering and equipping them to take care of refugees.”

The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and World Relief plan to continue bringing foreign refugees into the Upstate. However, there are many who oppose this course of action. Many Spartanburg residents openly oppose the decision to allow displaced immigrants in the area due to fears of inadequate screening processes, an un-welcomed cultural invasion and a loss of jobs for locals.

Rep. Trey Gowdy has been speaking out against the federal government for not properly coordinating and communicating with the state government on the arrival and placement of the refugees. The situation escalated to the point that Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for population, refugees and migration, felt the need to come to Spartanburg and help ease the minds of the worried locals.

Emma Cross, photo by Caleb Ecarma.

Emma Cross, photo by Caleb Ecarma.

Emma Cross, a sophomore Elementary Education major at NGU, has been involved first hand with the refugee crisis. Her family, in conjunction with the World Relief Organization, has recently taken in Rohingya refugees and is working to find them a place to live and other living essentials.

“We’re getting a lot of opposition, more so from people that just aren’t informed and think that these people are coming to take their jobs or coming as illegals," Cross said.

"God has given us an incredible opportunity because these people are from parts of the world where we’re not allowed to share the gospel, but these people are coming to us and we can share the gospel with them in our own backyard,” she added.

Despite the opposition, World Relief continues to help displaced foreigners from the Congo and Myanmar, with an eye on resettling Syrian refugees in the future. Lee plans on emigrating as many as 116 refugees in the Upstate within the next year.