Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘bhutanese’

Refugees preyed upon on Rochester NY streets

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 8, 2014


Refugees in Rochester NY say they are fed up with being targeted for crime on the city’s streets. Ironically, many of these refugees do not report the crimes to police. Reportedly, the assaults, robberies and verbal abuse against local Nepali-Bhutanese and other refugees are being committed by young men from the African-American community. There is some debate whether these attacks are hate crimes or if the young men are targeting the victims due to their vulnerability as immigrants. An article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle examines the issue:

Are the assaults, robberies and verbal abuse against local Bhutanese, Nepali and other refugees by young men from the African-American community hate crimes or crimes of economics and opportunity?

Perhaps a little of both.

Former Rochester police chief James Sheppard, who now works as a mentor to young African-American men whose lives have gone down paths of crime, downplayed tagging the crimes as “hate crimes” — defined generally as a criminal offense motivated by bias against race, religion, gender or other characteristics. He said the perpetrators are more often young black men who don’t feel good about themselves and who prey on the vulnerable for economic reasons…

Those who have been attacked say the abuse is often accompanied by comments such as “go back to your own country,” or “you don’t belong here.”…

Members of that community say they often do not call police because they either fear retaliation from the accused, they don’t think police will be effective at solving the problem, or they are simply more inclined just accept the abuse… Read more here

Posted in crime, dangerous neighborhoods, gangs, hate crimes, Nepali Bhutanese, police, Rochester, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

More refugees work and pay taxes than not, making up for those unable

Posted by Christopher Coen on December 24, 2013

supportIts become popular in a certain part of the political spectrum in the US to scapegoat refugees for economic ills of the country. U.S. Citizens who are struggling economically can be both vulnerable to these false arguments as well as contributors to a climate of hostility to other vulnerable populations — people resettled to this country. A Nepali-Bhutanese man’s Op-ed in The Oregonian however makes the case for refugee resettlement by addressing the economic arguments:

Refugee resettlement is an integral part of the U.S. immigration program, helping to bring the world’s most vulnerable populations to safety in the US. But some wonder why the federal government welcomes more of these strangers when the U.S. already has so many homeless and unemployed citizens. Based on my experiences arriving from a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, refugee resettlement need not be viewed as an issue of benefits to newcomers at the expense of old-timers. Usually, both the U.S. government and its newest arrivals end up winners.

First of all, refugees don’t come to U.S. for free or without going through a security check. When a refugee comes from refugee camps overseas or from a country torn by war or political unrest, he or she takes a travel loan from the U.S. government for airfare. Refugees have to pay that money back. I owed $1,300 for my one-way plane ticket. Within a year, I paid every penny back.

Refugee resettlement is an investment in the lives of refugees and in the development of this country. Annually, the U.S. resettles an average of 70,000 people, or roughly 1 percent of the total world refugee population. Since 1975, more than three million refugees have been resettled into the U.S., according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). That’s an enormous addition to the tax base. Even though refugees have to wait until they are U.S. citizens to receive certain benefits, they start paying taxes upon arrival…

…more refugees work and pay taxes than not, making up for those who are unable to…

…Initially, limited English skills lead most refugees to work entry level jobs that average Americans would rather not do. Big corporations like Marriott and Hilton count on refugees coming here to fill a legal workforce. Those same corporations donated to both Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates during the 2012 general election to push for the admission of more legal workers. These hard-working refugees stay at work longer than American co-workers. This helps American employers save some money on training and hiring costs. More seriously, refugees developed a burning desire to work while being banned from doing so in home and camp countries… Read more here

Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, legislation, Nepali Bhutanese, Oregon | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Update on resettlement situation in Manchester

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 21, 2013


Refugee resettlement has been greatly reduced in Manchester, New Hampshire since the mayor’s battle with the local resettlement agency and the State Department. Now, however, the International Institute will resettle about 200 refugees this fiscal year (through September), with half being placed in the nearby town of Nashua instead of Manchester. The mayor is still talking about taking a breather by the reduction in new refugee resettlement but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help refugees already resettled in Manchester, so how will this reduction help get every refugee employeed before the next refugees arrive, as he claims he wants? An Associated Press article has the story:

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — …While many Bhutanese have transitioned well to life in U.S. — and they are all better off than they were in refugee camps — many, especially those older than 40, are struggling, Niroula said.

“Bhutanese are facing lot of challenges, because they are jobless,” he said…

…In November 2011, Mayor Ted Gatsas, a Republican then newly elected to his second term, drew national attention after asking the State Department to stop resettling refugees to Manchester. In a recent interview, he said he still believes the city could benefit from break in their arrival.

“We’ve got refugees in this community that don’t know the language, don’t have a job, and what I’ve been saying is let us catch our breath. Let us get these people into working society, so they’re good examples of the city of Manchester,” he said. “You can’t do that by bringing 300 more refugees on top of that.”

Dr. Jacqueline Verville, director of the Holy Cross Family Resource Center, which provides English classes and other services, said her organization is far from being maxed out, adding that Holy Cross is only one of many groups providing similar services. She said she believed there should be no restrictions on new arrivals but acknowledged many immigrants do struggle…

…The Manchester task force collected figures in 2010 showing 85 percent of refugees became taxpayers within a year. That’s not indicative of full employment, as many refugees find short-term or seasonal work, but permanent positions are harder to come by…

…New refugees began arriving again last October, and [Carolyn Benedict-Drew, president and CEO of the International Institute of New England] said the institute will place close to 200 during the current fiscal year, which ends in September.

To take some of the pressure off Manchester, close to 50 will be resettled in nearby Nashua… Read more here

Posted in International Institute of New Hampshire, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Nepali Bhutanese, New Hampshire | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Columbus apartment complex where resettlement agencies placed refugees riddled with problems

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2013


An apartment complex in Columbus where refugee resettlement agencies placed refugees because of low rental rates is riddled with 63 code violations. A Nepali-Bhutanese refugee who lives in a unit with his family says his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year and said he was worried about his family’s safety. Another Nepali-Bhutanese refugee said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Community Refugee and Immigration Services and World Relief Columbus stopped placing refugees in the complex after last year’s fire publicity, but have not evacuated the other refugees to better housing despite the extensive code violations. The units are poorly maintained, have bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems, according to an inspection report. I think this case case shows the wisdom of placing refugees only according to rental unit prices while ignoring basic safety, repair and habitability issues which, by the way, are violations of the State Department refugee contracts. Will the State Department be taking any action against its refugee contractors in Columbus? I’ll believe it when I see it. An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the details of this story:

Columbus prosecutors say that a North Side apartment complex that rents to scores of refugees is riddled with code violations that owners have ignored for months.

Prosecutors filed a complaint yesterday with Franklin County Environmental Court against Summit Park Apartments. The complaint says a code-enforcement inspector has found 63 violations since September.

The inspection report said multiple units were poorly maintained, had bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems…

In three inspections since November, building inspectors found wooden balconies that had deteriorated to the point that they were unsafe. The inspections also determined that concrete and steel balconies there must be evaluated and repaired…

In August, families from Bhutan, Somalia and other countries were displaced after fire ravaged one of the buildings, at 4349 Walford St. The fire started in a fenced-in storage area that had been filled with furniture.

Fire investigators said it was arson. At least two refugee agencies, , have not placed anyone at the complex since then.

They still had code violations that hadn’t got taken care of that got worse after the fire,” said Kay Lipovsky, office manager for World Relief Columbus.

Agencies place refugees at complexes such as Summit Park because rents are inexpensive, she said.

One resident, Yam Subba, a Bhutanese Nepali refugee who lives in a unit with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and his mother, said his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year. Subba, 28, said he was worried about his family’s safety.

Another Bhutanese Nepali refugee, Moti Rai, who lives in a unit with his father, said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Still, Rai, 27, said he lived in a small hut in a refugee camp in Bhutan. “I think this is better than that.”… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, bed bugs, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), housing, housing, substandard, Nepali Bhutanese, safety, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Unemployment, depression, lack of family ties & suicide among Bhutanese refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 14, 2013


At least 25 Bhutanese refugees have committed suicide in the U.S. since the group began to resettle here in 2008. This blog reported on the problem when a few reports began to show up in the media and covered the stories as they occurred (see cases in Pittsburgh, Nashville, Buffalo and Phoenix). Refugee resettlement agencies have been for the most part silent about the phenomena. Risk factors include depression, not being the family’s provider, feelings of limited social support, having family conflict after resettlement, and having been resettled here less than a year ago. An article in The Atlantic magazine now shines a brighter light on this issue:

…Mitra Mishra killed himself. Subedi, a case manager for Bhutanese refugees at Interfaith Works Center for New Americans in Syracuse, NY, was with the 20-year-old Mishra at Schiller Park the evening of July 3, 2010.

“We played soccer just the previous day until 6 p.m. and he was totally fine,” Subedi said of Mishra, who was not a client of the center. “He played with me and I drove him back to his home. There wasn’t any indication. Nothing was wrong.”

On Independence Day, early morning walkers found Mishra’s body hanging from a tree at the soccer field.

…Mishra’s death is part of a troubling pattern among Bhutanese refugees resettled in the U.S. In August of 2010, about a month after Mishra’s death, Dan Maya Gurung committed suicide in Buffalo, according to the Bhutan News Service. Gurung was in her late 30s and had been in the country just two weeks. The next month, Nirmala Niroula, 35, also living in Buffalo, hung herself in her apartment. Niroula had moved to the U.S. three months earlier. That December, 20-year-old Menuka Poudel was found dead in her Phoenix apartment, hanging from a noose fashioned from the shawl Bhutanese women wear with their traditional clothing. She had been in the States just two months.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) began to notice a pattern. Ultimately, 16 suicides were confirmed among U.S. resident Bhutanese refugees as of February 2012…

…The rate of depression among the Bhutanese surveyed was 21 percent, nearly three times that of the general U.S. population (6.7 percent). In addition to depression, risk factors for suicide included not being the family’s provider, feelings of limited social support, and having family conflict after resettlement. Most of the suicides were within a year of resettlement to the U.S. and, in all cases, the victims hanged themselves…

…the problem is not over just because the study period has ended. Nine more suicides have been reported to ORR since. The numbers may actually be higher, says Som Nath Subedi, the Portland caseworker. He says the community is reluctant to discuss suicides out of fear of how the news might affect resettlement, which continues today… Read more here

Posted in alienation-isolation, CDC, Hindu, mental health, Nepali Bhutanese, ORR, suicide | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Students rally in support of refugees in Concord

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 31, 2012

Students from Concord High School rallied yesterday in support of the refugees targeted with abuse last week. An article in the Concord Monitor has the details:

Roughly 50 Concord High School students, faculty and staff rallied yesterday at the home of recent refugee immigrants who received racist letter last week.

We know that Concord is way better than that,” said Hema Gautam, a Concord High senior and one of the rally organizers. “There is so much more love here than hate.”

We are working really, really hard on this point that this is America and there is no discrimination here. We are all human beings. We just want to be equal,” said Raman Sandhu, another senior and event organizer.

The students welcomed the family members, who found two anonymous notes on their door telling them to leave America… Read more here

Posted in hate crimes, Nepali Bhutanese, New Hampshire, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Third case of threatening notes left at refugees’ homes in Concord

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 25, 2012

Another case of insulting notes have been left at the home of another refugee family in Concord. The notes said that the refugee family members are “inconsiderate assholes” who receive everything for free and that they needed help getting kicked out of their apartment. Similar threatening notes were left in August and last September. The refugees also report that groups of young people will sometimes throw stones at them when they turn their backs, and that people sometimes block the doors to the buildings or the landings of the stairways, and tell the immigrants they need to pay $5 or $10 to pass. An article in the Concord Monitor has the story:

Two notes insulting immigrants and refugees were left taped to the door of a family of Bhutanese refugees, the third incident of racist notes on refugee homes in Concord since September 2011…

The notes were left taped to their door in an apartment building on Eastern Avenue – one on Sunday and one on Monday. One was shorter and written in marker; the other filled an 8-by-11-inch white paper, and was written in pen.

They said, among other things, that the Gurung family members are “inconsiderate assholes” who receive everything for free.

Written as if by the Gurungs, one of the notes said, “help us get kicked out of our apartment”…

This is the third incident of racist notes left for recent refugee immigrants to Concord. In September 2011 and August this year, notes appeared written in black marker on several homes in the South End.

The same detective is working on this case, and his initial assessment is that it is not related, said Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley…

Other minority residents from the complex warned him groups of young white people will sometimes throw stones at them when their backs are turned, Lal Gurung said.

People also sometimes block the doors to the buildings or the landings of the stairways, and tell the immigrants they need to pay $5 or $10 to pass, he said.

The bullying can be especially prominent in the mornings and afternoons as refugee children go to and from their school bus stop, he said...

Tips on the case can be shared anonymously by calling 226-3100, by visiting the Crimeline website, or by texting TIP234 and sending a message to CRIMES. Read more here

Posted in hate crimes, Nepali Bhutanese, New Hampshire, xenophobia/nationalism/isolationism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Poverty, stress-related ailments, unemployment and struggle with the English language concern to Oakland’s Bhutanese refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 14, 2012

Bhutanese refugees are struggling with poverty, stress-related ailments, unemployment and the English language in Oakland, California. The refugees lack many needed services in the East Bay area that could help them meet self-sufficiency, partly due to the poor economy and related state budget cuts. An article in the Oakland Tribune explains:

Five years after a few pioneering families began trickling into East Oakland and Alameda, a burgeoning Bhutanese exile community is happy to have left refugee camps but still struggling to adjust to Bay Area life, according to the first report to survey their well-being.

“The community is still trying to survive,” said Jiwan Subba, president of the Alameda-based Bhutanese Community in California, a year-old organization helping link the refugees with jobs, health services and fellowship…

…Subba’s group used the occasion to reveal some of the economic and social problems felt by the community of several hundred refugees, nearly all of whom have arrived in the past five years.

In a survey of 91 Bhutanese immigrants in Oakland and Alameda, about 68 percent had incomes below the federal poverty line, more than half reported stress-related ailments, 42 percent are unemployed and many say they struggle with the English language, which makes it harder for them to find good jobs… Read more here

Posted in economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, ESL & ELL, language, mental health, Nepali Bhutanese, Oakland | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fire guts apartment building in Phoenix

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 8, 2012

A refugee from Nepal barely escaped with their lives from an early morning apartment building fire in Phoenix. An article and video report at Fox 10 News has the details:

PHOENIXA fire destroyed an apartment building early Sunday morning near 27th Avenue and Indian School Road.

Fire fighters arrived at the Willow Springs apartment complex around 2:30 a.m. The charred skeleton of the building left behind shows just how out of control that fire got.

Crews rushed into the inferno, a two alarm fire that had everyone on high alert.

“It was hot, it caught the first and then the second the third and the roof and jumped over,” said Dan Garcia, a witness.

“Real orange, about six feet tall big, it didn’t take long for that to go up,” said Michael Williams, a witness…

As many as 10 units were affected and nearly 30 people were displaced and forced to spend the night at a make shift Red Cross shelter.

Lek Ghaley and his family, refugees from Napal, barely escaped with their lives.

“The fire was there, I was here, I was trying to end the fire but I can’t,” said Ghaley. 

Smoke was everywhere said Lek’s dad, who lost everything but his green card and documents.

“We had people trapped on the third floor, the guys were able to knock the fire down [and] get them down the stairs ,” said Captain Scott McDonald, with the Phoenix Fire Department.

McDonald said four children under the age of 5 were taken to a nearby hospital for smoke inhalation as a precaution… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, Nepali Bhutanese, Phoenix | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees flee fire at Columbus apartment complex

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 21, 2012

Dozens of Bhutanese refugees living at a Columbus apartment complex have been displaced following a fire on Monday evening. A blurb at WSYX ABC-6 News explains:

COLUMBUS — No one was physically injured during an intense blaze at Summit Park Apartments Monday evening. For some however, the fire reminded them of what’s now considered their “past life.”

“About 500 homes,” Laxmi Acharay recalled. “All of us, 500 homes gone at once.”

Acharay is one of dozens who now live at the apartment complex who came to Columbus from a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal…

Three dozen homes had to be evacuated as Columbus Firefighters battled the flames.

Acharay’s apartment was untouched by the flames. He’s thankful he won’t have to completely relive the nightmare that once left him homeless in another country. Read more here

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the fire was an arson:

…No injuries were reported in the fire, which started in a fenced-in storage area filled with old furniture next to the apartment building at 4349 Walford St. Investigators say it was arson, Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Michael Fowler said, although they don’t know yet how it was set… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, Columbus, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, Somali | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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