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Anchorage, Alaska: An Unlikely Home for Refugees

Anchorage, Alaska: An Unlikely Home for Refugees Read Transcript


CAITLIN BURKE: They flee persecution, poverty, and war,

willing to live in dangerous refugee camps

across oceans in overcrowded boats.

The government implemented the ethnic cleansing policy,

and then purposefully displaced that population out

of the country.

CAITLIN BURKE: The latest global trends report from the UN notes

that in 2015 alone, violence drove some 65 million people

from their homes.

That's more than the entire population of France.

FILIPPO GRANDI: Instead of developing better asylum

systems that are hospitable to recognize

the hardship and the difficulties

and the reasons for people to flee, barriers are erected,

and the barriers need not be physical.

Sometimes they're legislative barriers.

CAITLIN BURKE: Grundy recently reported

that the space needed to provide these people

homes far outweighs the amount made available by governments.

When people only hear or consider statistics,

it becomes easier to ignore a crisis,

but behind these numbers are people and families

torn from their lives, their homes, and driven into exile.

Here in Anchorage, Alaska the city is working on new policies

to help integrate the immigrants and refugees who resettle here.

You can walk through any store, down any street

and not know how many different languages you just heard.

It's a continual intercultural arena here,

and for us that has given us such a-- certainly

a very different view from what people would think they would

find in Anchorage, Alaska.

CAITLIN BURKE: In 2016, the city won a grant

to promote inclusiveness for immigrants and refugees.

We really want to help try and figure out who we've got

and how do we start working with businesses,

with government, with the university

to make sure that we're really giving them that opportunity

to succeed.

CAITLIN BURKE: As part of that strategy,

the Anchorage community land trust

is focused on revitalizing Mountainview, one

of the country's most diverse neighborhoods.

We have people from literally every corner

of the earth in this one little small footprint.

Every day it's this little experiment

of people coming together to call this one place home,

and the city is watching and the nation

is watching how it all works, how it works when--

how does harm-- what does harmony

look like, what are the challenges, what

do people need?

CAITLIN BURKE: In its efforts to transform Mountainview,

the Land Trust ask a lot of questions.

It then takes action based on what it learns from residents.

Mountainview is always seen as a last resort community,

and we saw that in resident 10 years.

So people would stay, on average, zero to two years.

Since revitalisation has been taking place,

people are staying longer.

The average tenure now is two to five years.

CAITLIN BURKE: Catholic social services

is among the groups helping refugees succeed

after they've relocated.

Over the past five years, we have

resettled a little over 700 refugees here in Anchorage.

CAITLIN BURKE: Lisa Aquino told us about specific challenges

that refugees face when they finally find

a place to start a new life.

On average, a refugee that's resettling in the United States

has been displaced from their home for, I think, 17 years.

So imagine that.

I mean, they haven't been able to have a home where they could

live, where they could safely send their child to school,

where they could have a job and save money for a very long time

before they've come here.

CAITLIN BURKE: CSS then works with refugees

on making the transition to Alaska

by helping with language, job skills,

and surviving the harsh climate.

Hari Kafle resettled here in 2009.

He quickly learned English and found

a job, determined to be successful in his new home.

Refugee fought very hard.

They are very dependable person.

Once to get the job, they will keep the job,

and they have very strong determination

that I have to do something, I have to come up

from the bottom level.

CAITLIN BURKE: Going forward, Anchorage

will continue to explore what makes

its city a place for people to come, stay, and succeed.

Caitlin Burke, CBN News Anchorage, Alaska.

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