LANDOVER, Md. – Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder announced today that following the end of the NFL’s regular season, FedEx Field will host some seventy-five thousand Syrian refugees until they can be relocated to other parts of the country. “We’re doing our part for the betterment of humanity,” declared Mr. Snyder during Sunday’s post-game press conference.
The majority of the refugees will be housed in the stadium itself but just over a third, approximately 26,000 people, will live temporarily in “tent cities” set up in the massive parking lot that surrounds FedEx Field. A number of players, including Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, will be on hand to attend to the daily needs of the refugees. “It gives us something productive to do during the playoffs,” Cousins told ESPN.
About eighty percent of the refugees are former residents of the Syrian city of al-Raqqa. Located along the north bank of the Euphrates, al-Raqqa has become an ISIS stronghold and has subsequently seen some of the heaviest aerial bombardment since the start of the conflict. “It’s nothing like I remember it,” said Mohammed Hussaini, a Syrian lawyer who is among the refugees set to be housed at FedEx Field. “I fear we can never return.”
The other twenty percent or so, according to the Department of State, have been flagged as ‘origins unknown.’ However, State Department officials working in conjunction with FEMA will establish an operations command center in FedEx Field’s Purple Lot where refugees will undergo a ‘vetting process.’
Prince George’s County City Council President Armin Tamzarian told Fox 5 DC, “On behalf of the people of Landover, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the refugees. We encourage you leave the stadium; branch out and explore all that Landover has to offer.” Councilman Tamzarian touted the Afrik International Food Market as a “must-see” for the Syrian refugees. “If that’s not enough,” Tamzarian continued, “there’s the Value Village Thrift Store and, let’s not forget, Landover Liquors.”
Many in Prince George’s County view the influx of Syrian refugees in a positive light. “Their arrival has real potential to boost our local economy,” said Bryan White, a small business owner. White, who owns a local gun shop, believes the refugees could increase his sales by at least fifty percent in 2016.