The United States Government anticipates sheltering 20,000 Kosovars in the coming months, of which a small number may end up in Baltimore, according to Lynn Heller of the International Rescue Committee.
Services for the deportees will be rendered by recently opened Baltimore Resettlement Center. The center was developed to offer services to all refugees coming to Baltimore, not just the Kosovars. At its small store-front office in Highlandtown, employment services, health screening, temporary government assistance, and language courses will be offered, with the intent to give refugees the skill sets needed to be self-sufficient. The center expects to annually serve about 300 people.
The program was developed, in part, by Maryland Office for New Americas and the city’s Department of Social Services, and is funded with a grant by the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Four private non-profit agencies are also involved: the International Rescue Committee, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and Immigration and Refugee Services of America.
Of the 20,000 Kosovars, only a small fraction are expected to remain in the U.S., if they are allowed to return to their homeland. In a Catholic Relief Services survey of 10,000 deportees in Albania, only 3% did not anticipate returning home. A total of 77,000 refugees were allowed into the country last year, while 140,000 Vietnamese and Cambodians arrived at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. 120,000 Cubans entered America in 1985