WNPR

Syrian Family Living in Connecticut After Indiana Refuses to Help

Nov 19, 2015

"It was a busy week for us, but we weren't going to say no to this family."
Chris George

A young Syrian family is now living in New Haven after Indiana officials objected to plans for the refugees to resettle in their state. Local officials scrambled to accommodate the family of three. 

The married couple and their toddler were diverted to Connecticut this week after Indiana's governor halted resettlements there in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Chris George leads IRIS, a refugee resettlement agency in New Haven. "We were called the day before they were set to arrive,” he said. “I think they were actually in the air flying towards the U.S.”

The call for help from an Indiana resettlement agency to IRIS came Tuesday. By Wednesday, the family had a place to stay.

George said his staff usually has two weeks to prepare for a refugee's arrival but they made it work. "We have five other families arriving this week,” he said. “So it was a busy week for us, but we weren't going to say no to this family."

Chris George of IRIS in New Haven.
Credit Aliyya Swaby / New Haven Independent

George said the husband is in his 30s, the wife is in her 20s, and their son is four and a half years old. He said the family had owned a used clothing store in Homs before fleeing Syria in 2011. "Homs witnessed some of the worst fighting during the civil war in Syria," he said.

The family members were refugees in Jordan for four years until getting word they were allowed to come to the U.S. George said the family is now working with an IRIS case worker.

Now that they are living in the U.S., their next challenge will be to learn English.