In 2016, 85,000 refugees from around the world were invited to the U.S. by the government, after rigorous screening by the Department of Homeland Security, lasting as long as three years. 500 of those refugees landed in Connecticut and were placed with local refugee agencies. New Haven-based IRIS is one such agency, which has tackled the needs of these newly-arrived refugees from war-torn areas like Sudan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, with an open heart. IRIS is now the largest refugee resettlement agency in Connecticut, resettling 530 of 900 refugees brought to the Nutmeg state in 2016. It helps refugees on the road to self-sufficiency by providing lifesaving support during their transition to life in the United States.
IRIS case managers greet refugees and take them to apartments — rented by IRIS and furnished with donated furniture. After being served a warm, culturally appropriate meal and after having a good night’s sleep, our clients will begin the initial work of being integrated into the fabric of the United States. IRIS provides a wide array of services to these new Americans including daily English lessons, childcare, assistance with registering children in the local schools, access to health care provided by our partner Yale-New Haven Hospital and a thorough multi-day cultural orientation. IRIS also works intensively with each new arrival to begin the important work of finding employment.
In 2016 IRIS responded to the international humanitarian crisis by doubling the number of refugees it resettled -- from 230 refugees in 2015 to 530 in 2016.
This was accomplished by partnering with groups of volunteers in over 50 towns all over Connecticut, expanding it's "Community Co-Sponsorship" program -- the resettling of refugees by volunteers in small communities, not in large inner cities -- dramatically and successfully.