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Volunteer Training Aids Refugee Resettlement Groups, But It's Costly, Report Says

The number of refugees worldwide has grown in recent years, and so has the number of volunteers willing to give time and help the displaced start over.

A new report by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI) says volunteers can give refugees personalized help that resettlement agencies can’t offer. But volunteers can also do more harm than good, if they are not properly trained.  

As funding for refugee resettlement groups drops, the need for volunteers grows. But harnessing their value can be costly, said Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, associate director, international program at MPI.

“Using volunteers to deliver needed services is not free. It might not even be cheaper because of the up-front investment it takes to get people up to speed, trained and supervise them,” she said.

Resettlement groups face hard choices in the coming years on whether to invest in volunteer training, Banulescu-Bogdan said.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.