KEPR | Local refugee explains the rigorous vetting process

KENNEWICK, Wash. – The League of Women voters held an information meeting Tuesday night to educate members and the public about the process refugees go through coming to America.

World Relief is a humanitarian organization that helps refugees with getting their documents, finding jobs, enrolling in school and setting up medical appointments.

Being accepted by World Relief is a rigorous and thorough 11- step process. From refugee status to admission into the United States, most refugees wait 18 months to three years before ever entering the U.S.

Amira Al Salami told the crowd about her experience as a refugee herself. Surrounded by war and bloodshed, she fled Iraq to find safety and flee conflict.

Al Salami stresses the definition of a refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, well-founded fear of persecution, or natural disaster.

She said no one wants to leave their country behind and no one wants to be a refugee.

“No one can understand what it’s like to be a refugee, until they become one themselves,” she explained.

Now a World Relief employee, Al Salami helps refugees begin their new life in America.

With her work, she hopes to bridge the gap between eastern and the western world.

“I thank god that I’m a strong person. I survived three wars, and I decided to do something, to help refugees, to bridge the gap between cultures – eastern and western, Iraqi, American, Islamic, non-Islamic,” she said. “I want understanding; understanding is the only key for this world to be in peace.”

World Relief accepts many household items as donations to help get refugee families settled.

To learn more about World Relief’s efforts in the Tri-Cities or ways you can donate, visit their website at

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