- Associated Press - Thursday, December 1, 2016

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) - The group that oversees the resettlement of refugees in Vermont is preparing to assist Syrians and Iraqis when they start arriving in the city, currently scheduled for next month.

Officials from the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program were in Rutland on Wednesday looking for office space and beginning the process of hiring staff. They also met with locals who are eager to help.

The Rutland Herald (https://bit.ly/2fPSlQN) reports officials from the resettlement program met with about 55 people from a wide array of social service agencies, businesses and nonprofit organizations to talk about plans for the arrival of the refugees. Topics included employment, language, interpreter services and volunteer opportunities.

The meeting comes as the process of locating specific families who will be resettled in Rutland is set to begin. The first families are expected to begin arriving next month.

“There’s a lot of information that we take for granted,” said Laurie Stavrand, the volunteer coordinator for the refugee group. “They come with a satchel of stuff. One thing they don’t come with is a network. Everyone in this room has a network, and they can share that.”

Resettlement program Director Amila Merdzanovic said the group had identified the spot for a downtown office in Rutland, but they have not yet signed a lease. The group also is recruiting people to fill three full-time positions in Rutland.

Current plans call for the first of up to 100 refugees - mostly Syrians, but some from Iraq - to begin arriving in Rutland early next year.

President-elect Donald Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the country and called for a moratorium on accepting Syrian refugees for fear of terrorists slipping through.

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Information from: Rutland Herald, https://www.rutlandherald.com/


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