July 30, 2009 NEWS RELEASE — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Welcomes First Refugees from Darfur

Press Contact: Stacy Martin, Vice President for Mission Advancement
410-230-2847, lirspress@lirs.org

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Welcomes First Refugees from Darfur

BALTIMORE, July 30, 2009—Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is the first U.S. refugee resettlement agency to welcome refugees from Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

“The crisis in Darfur has left countless victims in its wake—children orphaned, families torn apart, entire villages destroyed,” states LIRS President Vice President for Protection and Programs Susan Krehbiel. “We are honored to be among the first to open our arms to our brothers and sisters from Darfur as they begin their lives anew. We stand with Lutherans and other concerned Americans to welcome this family to their new community and we look forward to lighting the way for others fleeing war and persecution.”

After a harrowing journey across the desert to find shelter at a refugee camp in Chad, the family was granted refugee status and became the first Darfuri refugees to be resettled in the United States. A widowed mother, her six children and one grandchild arrived safely to the Atlanta area this past week and received a heartfelt welcome from their new neighbors and friends from Lutheran Services of Georgia, an affiliate of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Refugees around the world flee their homelands due to systemic persecution and prolonged conflict. There are currently an estimated 13.6 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide including as many as 2.7 million displaced from the Darfur region.

Since 1939, LIRS has created welcoming communities for America’s newcomers. It is one of the nation’s leading agencies serving refugees and immigrants. The organization resettles refugees, protects migrant children, advocates for just treatment of asylum seekers, seeks alternatives to immigration detention and stands for unity for families fractured by unfair laws. To learn more about LIRS’s work of welcome, please visit lirs.org.

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