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Contracts approved for refugee resettlement groups

CONCORD - The Executive Council has voted to approve four contracts for refugee resettlement groups totalling more than $450,000.

The contracts were approved retroactively for the 2011 fiscal year, because they had been held up in an attempt to get more information from the agencies responsible for settling refugees in Manchester.

Mayor Ted Gatsas had asked the council to withhold the funds as a way to put pressure on the groups, particularly the International Institute of New England, to be more responsive to his concerns. He has called for a moratorium on refugee resettlement as a way to better tend to the needs of the refugees already in the city.

Councilor Raymond J. Wieczorek, who represents Manchester, said one result of the discussions around the funding is that the organizations will be required to compile reports to show what kind of progress is being made in such areas as the refugees' employment levels.

'We're trying to get more information. If we're going to approve the money, we want to know what we're getting for our money,' he said.

The council voted in December to release the funds for the contracts, all of which come from the U.S. State Department. The contracts are administered by state Department of Health and Human Services.

A $170,900 contract went to the International Institute; another for the same amount with to Lutheran Community Services; a $30,000 contract went to Southern New Hampshire Services and a $78,200 contract went to the Somali Development Center, based in Boston.

For the most part, the contracts are for English teaching and workforce training services.

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