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Twin Falls celebrates World Refugee Day with food, music

Members of a band called Miracle of Salvation, which includes refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, perform in the Twin Falls Municipal Band Shell during Refugee Day.
Rachel Cohen
/
Boise State Public Radio
Members of a band called Miracle of Salvation, which includes refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, perform in the Twin Falls Municipal Band Shell during Refugee Day.

Refugee resettlement organizations in Idaho celebrated World Refugee Day this month.

With the exception of 2020, the College of Southern Idaho’s refugee program, which resettles refugees in Twin Falls, has held an annual Refugee Day in the city park since 2010.

This year’s event on Friday, June 24, featured food cooked by refugees from eight countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, Burma, Eritrea and Afghanistan.

“It’s a happy day for me,” said Zeze Rwasama, the director of the CSI refugee program.

His organization has spent the last couple of years building up capacity to resettle more refugees after cuts to the program nationally under the Trump Administration.

The focus recently has been on helping welcome Afghans who fled their country from the Taliban. Most arrivals to Idaho occured in November, December and January. The process slowed in February as U.S. military bases that had been temporarily housing evacuees emptied.

Rwasama said Idaho will likely soon continue to receive people who left Afghanistan, but went to other countries first, through the typical refugee resettlement process.

Additionally, he said refugee programs in Idaho are building capacity to receive Ukrainian refugees. That process will look a bit different because it’s happening under a community sponsorship model, in which families in the U.S. can sponsor Ukrainians to speed up the process.

Rwasama said he’s been hearing from members in the community who are interested in helping Ukrainian families.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.