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The so-called "fall of Saigon" in May of 1975 ushered in what has come to be known as the "modern refugee era." S.E. Asia became a bellweather for refugee flows and refugee camp development, especially when viewed through the lens of U.S. policies and protocols for humanitarian assistance. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the State of Colorado assumed a leading role in the resettlement of these " and subsequently other " refugees. At the peak of activity, more than 1200 persons were being resettled annually in Colorado, and well over 100,000 nation-wide. Four VOLAGs (voluntary agencies, assisting in initial resettlement) were active in the state, as were a number of other human service, health/mental health, and educational organizations. The Colorado Refugee Services Program, as a state agency, played a lead coordinating role " one which continues to the present day.
During this span of over 40 years, agency outreach has evolved and matured. Mission statements have been modified. Some programs have expanded; others have contracted or disappeared entirely. The Catholic Refugee Services VOLAG was terminated; the African Community Center VOLAG was initiated. Mutual Assistance Associations (MAAs), providing self-help to groups as diverse as Vietnamese and Somalis, have come and gone. The Spring Institute and the Asian Pacific Development Center are among the agencies which have provided a steady presence during this period.
To capture what has transpired in the field of refugee services, with a special emphasis on Colorado and metro Denver, five specialists have developed the accompanying "Refugee Service Matrix." Key programs and projects spanning the past 40+ years are included. Some cells on the matrix are "hot;" with a simple "click of the mouse" the user will be able to view additional information of importance.
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