Who do we help?

Refugees have been selected by the UN High Commission on Refugees to be resettled in a third country because they can neither return to their home country nor live in safety in neighboring host countries. Of over 25 million refugees in the world, only 1 in 500, those who are most vulnerable, meet the UN criteria for resettlement: individuals with medical needs, women and girls at risk, children at risk, and survivors of violence and torture. The US also resettles Iraqi and Afghani refugees who are being persecuted due to their work with the US government on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs).

The US President decides the number of refugees and SIVs allowed into the country. Once the UNHCR refers a refugee to be considered for resettlement, the US Government does six background checks before being approved for admission.  These highly vetted families and individuals then come to HIAS Pennsylvania for support services when they are assigned to Philadelphia for resettlement.

Why do we help?

Refugee resettlement goes to the heart of our history and mission. Founded to help Jews escaping persecution resettle in America, HIAS Pennsylvania now helps refugees of any background and faith who have fled their homes to stay alive.  Many have lived in camps for years. Some have survived trauma hard for American citizens to imagine. They arrive with nothing but their lives into a completely foreign culture.

In addition to humanitarian reasons, we welcome refugees for the benefit of American society.  In their diversity, they strengthen our economy, our culture, and our communities.

How do we help?

HIAS Pennsylvania helps refugees get started in the U.S. by:

  • finding them a safe and secure place to live and furnishing it with donated household goods and furniture.
  • greeting them at the airport and bringing them to their new home.
  • making sure they have a hot, home-cooked meal when they first arrive home.
  • helping them get Social Security cards and access public benefits.
  • ensuring they receive a thorough medical screening from one of the partner refugee health clinics at PENN Center for Primary Care for adults or Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
  • orienting them to the community and providing financial literacy lessons.