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United States Resettlement

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Refugee resettlement is a difficult process. The Somali Bantu refugees who arrive in the United States, however, are not without assistance. Ten voluntary agencies have been designated to help the Bantus adjust to such a dramatically different lifestyle. These organizations, chosen by the Department of State, include Catholic Charities, the Church World Service, Immigration and Refugee Services of America, and World Relief Refugee Services. Each is responsible for assisting the refugees with their basic immediate needs during their first three months in the United States. The voluntary agencies help the refugees find housing, provide transportation, and teach them the skills necessary to overcome the challenges that arise during the first few months in a strange country. These agencies also share information about Somali Bantu history and lifestyle with the communities that receive the refugees.                                                                   
Although some of the agencies are funded to support long-term programs for refugees, many Somali Bantus have chosen to relocate from their first resettlement site after the organization's initial three-month responsibility has ended. The Somali Bantu community has often had difficulty adjusting to the high crime rates, poor schooling, and urban environment in the larger cities like Atlanta and Columbus in which they first live. As a result, many refugees choose to move to join friends and family in a smaller community. In 2005, the first Somali Bantu refugees relocated to Lewiston, and the community's population of over one thousand has continued to grow.                                    



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