The Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) is a non-profit organization that was established in 1998. The need for this center was felt at the height of the brutal Liberian Civil War. As a Wang Labs Inc. consultant at a United States Embassy in Africa, its founder, Torli Krua, came face to face with starving victims and skeletons of people killed months earlier. Specifically, it was the heart ranging spectacle of a seriously ill child and its dehydrated mother who were denied visa to join their relatives in the US that convinced him to establish the UHRI. He resigned from his lucrative consultancy, and vowed to establish a center that would fight for the rights of all people to be treated fairly and equally in their struggle against all forms of persecution, whether it is political, religious, social, national, ethnic, or racial. The UHRI would ignite hope in the hearts of people who are threatened and crushed by violence and hate. It was incorporated in 1998, and has an office 31 Heath Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.
2.2: Mission, Goals and Purpose
The mission of Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) is to assist refugees of wars to become self-reliant and establish new lives in the United States. For the long-term solution, the UHRI also assists in the repatriation and resettlement of refugees who desire to return to their homelands when hostilities cease and a safer environment exists. UHRI serves all refugees but 90% of our clients are refugees from Sub-Saharan Africa.
2.3: UHRI’s Programs: Populations served and types of services currently provided
In our various programs, we have assisted over 1500 Sub-Saharan African refugees and immigrants from 22 African countries mainly including Cameroon, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Morocco, Angola, Tanzania, Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Niger, Mali, Ghana, Gambia and Nigeria. As UHRI continues to evolve as an organization, we wish to serve at least 1000 persons per year and impact many more as our work touches family members of our clients here and abroad.
The services we provide include assisting refugees with temporary status to obtain work permits; assisting asylum seekers in navigating the system; employment and affordable housing referral and training; and refugee resettlement and integration.
The United States responds to the humanitarian needs of refugees worldwide by admitting refugees of various nationalities for permanent resettlement in the United States. In the fiscal year 2001, 80,000 refugees will benefit from this program. The total number of 80,000 is broken down into quotas for different regions. South/East Asia, 10,000, Caribbean, 3000 Europe, 37,000, East Asia, 6,000 and Africa, 20,000. Unallocated reserve, 4,000. There are 3.1 million refugees in Africa waiting for resettlement in the United States. Due to the low quota, many refugees avoid the long wait and enter the United States on visitors visa, hoping to join their relatives and apply for asylum upon arrival. Because of the large number of refugees in Africa and the low quota, most Africa refugees in the United States are asylum seekers.
UHRI serves the growing number of Sub-Saharan African refugees and asylum seekers in the Greater Boston area. UHRI has assisted 40 resettled refugees in the year 2000. This program is funded by the Office for Immigrants and refugees. ($10,000 yearly). UHRI served 3000 Liberians granted DED in 1999 with information referral and DED processing.
2.4: Accessibility of Sites and programs
The UHRI office is currently located at 31 heath street, Jamaica Plain, Boston. In March 2002, we found ourselves on the streets when uncooperative landlord forced us out of our office in Dudley. The condition in the Dudley office excruciatingly deteriorated to a level where the safety and health of our staff and clients were threatened. We requested the landlord to repair to building but he adamantly refused. We had no option but move out. The whole community due to the confidence they had in UHRI, came together and assisted us get a safe and spacious office space via Family Service of Greater Boston at 31 heath street–where we are currently located. This is an in-kind contribution to us by the Family Service of Greater Boston that also included two computers, two printers, two-phone line, fax and access to four spacious conference rooms. Our new office is handicapped accessible, equipped with Internet and elevators, and also directly located at a bus stop and a minute walk from the MBTA Orange line subway at Jackson Square station.
This new location has ample parking space for our clients, guests and we have continued to diligently serve our walk-in clients Monday-Friday with extended weekend outreach.
This new location has also been ideal place because it is located in the heart of 95% of our clients’ residential and working zone.
2.5: Successful outcomes achieved through organization’s services
2.5.1: UHRI’s distinctions and organizational competencies
While there are other organizations, which share in this mission, the UHRI is unique in the following ways:
UHRI’s programs are designed by the refugees for the refugees with cultural and linguistic sensitivities to meet their needs and competencies. Currently, UHRI has 3 fulltime staffs and 12 volunteers. UHRI staffs and volunteers fluently speak and write in English, French, Swahili, Zulu, German, Russian, Arabic, Oromo, Dinka, Nuer, Dan, Madingo, Lingala, Kirundi and Kinyarwanda among numerous other local and regional dialects from Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a key element of our program implementation successes, service delivery and community connections.
UHRI offers full service to all war refugees, including asylum seekers, resettled refugees and refugees with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), who are generally excluded from government services and benefits.
UHRI’s programs takes into account the long term interests of war refugees by offering the options of permanent integration into the American society or an eventual resettlement in the refugees’ homeland when hostilities cease.
UHRI has continues monitoring and evaluation of its programs and clients. As part of the monitoring, UHRI conducts a yearly assessment of the homelands of refugees after which a report is issued to the refugee community.
UHRI’s office is open evenings and weekends, making services accessible to working people.
This new location has ample parking space for our clients, guests and we have continued to diligently serve our walk-in clients Monday-Friday with extended weekend outreach. This new location has also been ideal place because it is located in the heart of 95% of our clients’ residential and working zone.