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Bowling Green Refugee Resettlement Agency Facing Uncertainty in New Year

Lisa Autry, WKYU

Bowling Green’s refugee resettlement agency is unsure how many refugees will be resettled in the new year, or where they’ll come from. The International Center of Kentucky is accepting refugees as they come in with little knowledge of how many they’re expected to receive. 

Executive Director Albert Mbanfu said the agency is working on an extended fiscal year, and they’re not sure when the new one will begin. 

“Whenever there is uncertainty, it’s not good, and that’s where we are right now,” he said. “We cannot say for sure how many people will be coming in next month, or how many people will come in before the end of the fiscal year.” 

Mbanfu said that uncertainty means he can’t alert schools ahead of time, making it difficult for them to plan or prepare for new refugee students. 

Gov. Andy Beshear recently announced Kentucky will continue accepting refugees, after being given the chance to opt-out of resettlement by President Donald Trump’s administration. 

There are also some new guidelines that could affect who is resettled in the Bluegrass state. President Donald Trump’s administration is focusing on resettling people who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs. But not all religions are equally eligible for the administration’s policy, with Christians the main focus. 

Mbanfu said he’s happy the government is taking notice of people who are persecuted for their faith, but believes the administration should consider all religions on an equal basis. 

“My wish and my fervent desire is that they open it up to all religions. It shouldn’t be just one or two religions,” he said. “Because we know right now there are millions of Rohingyas out of Burma who are being persecuted just because they are Muslim.” 

Mbanfu said the United States should also open its doors to other minorities who are being persecuted around the world.

Becca Schimmel is a Becca Schimmel is a multimedia journalist with the Ohio Valley ReSource a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio. She's based out of the WKU Public Radio newsroom in Bowling Green.
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