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U.S. Closing Refugees' New Jersey Safe Haven

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 7, 1999 – Officials in charge of refugee resettlement at Fort Dix, N.J., will host a July 9 ceremony marking the end of Operation Provide Refuge.

The Army reserve installation has housed up to 4,025 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo since early May. Refugees arriving in America processed through various federal agencies at the reserve base before being linked with sponsors in 40 states. All refugees who arrived at Fort Dix found American sponsors, an operation spokesman said. None returned to Kosovo.

The base saw seven births and two deaths among the refugees during the operation. Federal, military and nongovernment agency officials will be on hand to send off the last 500 refugees prior to a military "closeout" ceremony honoring all those who supported the resettlement operation.

The Department of Health and Human Services was the lead federal agency in Provide Refuge. Other major contributors included the New Jersey National Guard; active duty XVIII Airborne Corps soldiers from Fort Bragg, N.C.; reservists from all over the country; and volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross.

Army Gen. Thomas A. Schwartz, commander of Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Ga., and Brig. Gen. James Helmly, commander of Task Force Provide Refuge, will attend. Department of Health and Human Service scheduled to attend include Carmen Nazario, prinicipal deputy assistant secretary for children and families, and Lavinia Limon, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

The ceremony in the post's Doughboy Gymnasium will include remarks by senior military leaders and federal officials as well as a refugee representative. A videotaped photo montage titled "Children of Kosovo," compiled by Army Staff Sgt. Keith O'Donnell, will also be shown.

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