Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Renewal to the North

October 6th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Aware of our fascination with the current wave of Bhutanese refugees alighting in the U.S., our favorite correspondent from the Nushagak Bay area alerted us to this great A/V feature from the Anchorage Daily News. Apparently a small group of the Lhotshampas have landed in the Land of the Midnight Sun, after a gobsmacking 17 years spent in refugee camps along the Bhutan-Nepal border. Now they’re finally free to celebrate Dashain in the proper manner.

The slide show got us thinking about Alaska’s recent history as a destination for refugees. That curiousity led us to this fascinating chart from the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Perhaps not surprisingly, the lion’s share of Alaska’s refugees were from the (ex)-Soviet Union between 1983 and 2005; the state also played host to 32 Romanians, 4 Cambodians, and a single Burmese (who we hope didn’t get too lonely).

Lots of other great stats in the chart, which provides some key insight into which states have become home-away-from-home for two or three generations of immigrants. We all knew about the Somali community in the Twin Cities, for example. But who knew that the lone Botswanan granted refugee status last year made his way to…Nebraska? Anyone know his story?


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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Captured Shadow

    I know refugees often get re-settled in a state, but quickly move to another one so I wonder if the chart reflects that?. It might be interesting to see similar charts from other countries. I know there is a significant Yugoslav population on Tierra del Fuego for instance. I also understand Sweden has a higher percentage of foreign born residents than the US, but I am not sure how many are refugees.

  • Jordan

    I’ve gotten to meet a few refugees who have stayed with my parents. They’re friends with a few people who are involved in refugee resettlement and will occasionally call up my parents when other housing situations fall through. So far they’ve hosted a man who was from Somalia but had been living in Pakistan for about 13 years due to the unrest in his home country and they later hosted a man from Sierra Leone who was waiting for the rest of his family to come over from the refugee camp they were staying in in Nigeria. Lots of interesting (and by interesting I often mean horrifying) stories from him and his friends in the Sierra Leonian community.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    My sense is that there are certain charitable networks that funnel certain nationalities to certain localities. Maybe organizations headed by ex-missionaries and the like? I noted that the Alaskan Dashain celebration was hosted by a Catholic charity that’s heavily involved with refugee resettlement. Though I guess they didn’t make conversion a prerequisite for aid, which is good of them.

    The ORR chart confirmed my anecdotal info that Maryland’s a big destination for Sierra Leonian refugees. I think they mean the part of Maryland that’s the D.C. ‘burbs–I knew a couple of SLians during my D.C. days, and I think they had ties to Silver Spring, etc.

  • Captured Shadow

    The International Rescue Committee (www.theirc.org) does some of the resettlement along with Lutheran Family Services. The local groupin Oregon is IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization) and is headed by a Cambodian Refugee. I am sure that the refugees have an easier time if there is a cluster of their countrymen in the area.