Refugee crisis is gathering focus



BAR HARBOR — The refugee crises affecting Syrians and others is the topic of an educational gathering set for Saturday, Nov. 7, from 3-5 p.m. at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church on Mount Desert Street. Area religious and civic organizations, libraries and citizens are organizing the event to help educate residents about what the Syrian people have been facing and what can be done to help.

“The family-friendly program will also feature local musicians, a sing-along and puppets for children,” organizer Ed Snyder said. Speakers include Hannah DeAngelis, assistant director of refugee and immigration services at Catholic Charities (CC) in Portland. CC has been designated by the U.S. State Department to resettle Syrian and other refugees in the state of Maine.

College of the Atlantic student Moni Ayoub, from Lebanon, has worked in a Syrian refugee camp and also will share stories. Another student will address drought and environmental aspects of the situation in Syria.

The Acadia Friends Meeting (Quakers) wrote to Maine’s U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins in September to let them know the congregation had been in touch with CC, offering to help resettle a family and find housing, jobs and schooling.

“I commend and appreciate knowing of your interest in personally helping refugees in the Middle East and Europe who are currently seeking resettlement,” an email response from King’s office said. He visited a refugee camp in Turkey just across the Syrian border in 2013, he said, and has advocated for American leadership and support in responding to the crisis. “However, it must be kept in mind that the U.S. Government has been resettling refugees in the U.S. for decades and that established procedures must continue to be followed,” the email said, urging cooperation with resettlement agencies such as CC.

Senator Collins’ email newsletter sent Oct. 23 mentioned she also had visited refugees, in her case, at a Doctors of the World shelter in Greece.

“As one might expect, some of the migrants are simply fleeing extreme poverty in the hope of a better life,” she wrote.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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