Refugee Volunteers in Murfreesboro Say Government Contractor Didn’t Provide Resettlement Services

Tennessee Star


During the March “Murfreesboro Muslim Youth” (MMY) meeting soliciting help for refugees brought to Rutherford County by federal resettlement contractor World Relief, it was disclosed that goods and services that the government paid for were not provided to the new refugees.

According to Abdou Kattih, founder and president of MMY, were it not for his organization, special emergency needs such as getting medical care for the refugee who arrived with a broken jaw or simply providing household essentials and even clothing, would not have been addressed, explaining they had taken care of “someone that does not have literally anything but the clothes they had off of last month.” (See 1:47 mark of YouTube video clip below.)


Melissa Sohrabi, who merged her group “Roots for Refugees” with MMY, was more direct in detailing the deficiencies of the government contractor in this talk she delivered in March:

There is an expectation of what should happen and there’s reality of what really does happen.  . . Why didn’t World Relief give them a table and chairs? Why didn’t they bring them a couch? What’s going on? . . . Not only did it not happen but if it did happen, those families are charged for every belonging, every item that is donated to World Relief, the family is then charged for, for having it delivered to them.

(See 7:04 mark of YouTube video clip below.)


World Relief (WR), based in Baltimore, is one of nine national refugee resettlement organizations that sign a “Cooperative Agreement” with the U.S. State Department to receive federal funding to resettle refugees.  This is taxpayer money allocated for each refugee brought to a community; the funds are split between the refugee and the agency. In addition, the resettlement agency is required to provide the goods and services as detailed in the signed agreement.

Between fiscal years 2016 -17, WR was paid over $40 million by the federal government to resettle refugees in communities where they operate local offices which also receive federal funding through grants administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Nashville World Relief office has a history of relying on area non-profits to do its work rather than use its own resources despite agreeing to these written terms when they took the taxpayer money. For example, in one of their proposals submitted to the U.S. State Department in which they detail how many refugees they want to resettle, why they should be paid for this work and why Nashville is a desirable location for resettlement, they wrote:

The Nashville area offers numerous services through other non-profit organizations to refugees with critical and emergency needs. Refugees can visit the Nashville Rescue Mission for shelter, food and safety, as well as Room in the Inn which provides working men with a hot meal and a place to sleep during the winter months.  There are several shelters for abused women in the area where refugee women and children can find safety if necessary.  Rooftop Ministries provides one-time assistance with rent payments: Wherry Housing Complex in Rutherford County houses refugees and others recovering from alcohol and substance abuse and has a Community Servants program to meet refugee needs.

The Nashville Rescue Mission and Room in the Inn provide shelter to the homeless.

As Kattih explained in his opening statement, “most of the families that arrived in Tennessee, in Nashville in the last year and a half, were stuck in a hotel because of the housing problem in Tennessee.”

Sohrabi confirmed that when refugees brought to Murfreesboro finally do move to an apartment they end up in the same apartment complex. “A lot of them have food stamps and are eligible for ‘Families First'” (Tennessee’s cash welfare program). She explained that World Relief was not helping the refugees with their paperwork but were forced to wait a long time until a paid caseworker would help them obtain identification at the DMV.

After a pitch from the Tennessee Office for Refugees, the volunteer recruiting session ended with a TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) representative giving the usual inaccurate and skewed anti-Trump, anti-Tennessee state legislature information.

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12 Thoughts to “Refugee Volunteers in Murfreesboro Say Government Contractor Didn’t Provide Resettlement Services”

  1. […] and community organizations helping some of the most needy include a non-profit group called “Murfreesboro Roots 4 Refugees” which partners with Murfreesboro Muslim Youth. This group stepped in to provide help to […]

  2. […] is busy providing services to refugees being resettled in Rutherford County. MR4R has taken over refugees abandoned in Murfreesboro by the World Relief resettlement agency. It was announced during the March MR4R […]

  3. […] same day that The Tennessee Star discovered complaints publicized on youtube by the refugee service volunteers in Murfreesboro made against […]

  4. Anna

    they should all be deported. what are they doing there? they are just economic migrants who were lied to by the refugee contractors who told them there were jobs in America. well there’s not barely enough jobs for American citizens, let alone jobs for Muslims who cannot speak English and who can’t be around pork or dogs, and who refuse to speak to a woman because women are beneath men according to their beliefs. These people do not belong in the USA

  5. lb

    So, they bring them here, dump them on the TN Taxpayers and then they sign up for free housing, free cash, free food, free school, etc on OUR dime? How about STOP letting them in! It is PAST time our Legislature stood up and said STOP

  6. W. Allen Barrett

    WHINE, WHINE, WHINE pack your bag and go back home if everything we have given you still isn’t enough. Maybe some guns and ammo or machetes would help you to relax and plan for the future. If it seems I am hard-hearted, not true, just sick and tired of being taken advantage of and watching our own citizens do without as compared to what these people are being given. When you pledge allegiance to a pseudo-religion that declares war against everyone that isn’t a part of that political group then you don’t deserve anything other than contempt. Please, don’t bother whining about how not all Muslims are terrorist, all who proclaim to be Muslim and do not declare Islam a violent and destructive practice is a part of the terrorist group, plain and simple. If you don’t want Islam to be a terrorist organization then change it instead of silently going with the flow.

  7. Wolf Woman

    And they took the dish detergent to the Democratic party headquarters? Really? Democrats buying future votes?

    So World Relief makes a pot of money from the U.S. government (us), ignores their responsibilities, dumps the refugees on the city where they go into direct competition with our citizens who are in need of shelter, food, health care and jobs. Sounds like a scam to me.

    Meanwhile, the city grows and affordable housing becomes unaffordable and scarce. And our taxes go up.
    As Bob said in his comment who will stand up and fight?

  8. Don

    this is the model of the contractor: engage with the refugee for as short a period as possible – 3 to 4 months, get the money and then go on to the next batch. That is why they are always pushing for more arrivals. Instead of spending time and resources on REAL resettlement which requires more time and money than they want to give, they put them into welfare as quick as possible and move on to newer arrivals. This model is not working for anyone except for the federal contractor who claims the moral high ground while defrauding the taxpayer and failing to serve the refugees.

  9. Bob

    I think we all know what’s going on here. But, who will stand up and fight?

    1. lb

      Exactly–the hearing in front of the Leg last year when they made these contractors show up was a joke–they were arrogant and dismissive with an attitude of “what can you do to us”. Next Session this needs to be TOP of the Legislative Agenda