Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘bhutanese’

Refugees in East Oakland left without medical care

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 25, 2012

In November a report came out that revealed that 60% of Myanmar refugees living in Oakland were trapped in poverty. In December Iraqi refugees reported that the IRC had exposed them to extreme violence by resettling them to East Oakland (Nepali-Bhutanese refugees have also been mugged). Now comes word that a group of 22 Nepali-Bhutanese refugees in East Oakland are HIV positive and have been getting no health care at all. With a six-month wait for primary care appointments at a local health clinic, one of the refugees died while waiting. An article at New American Media mentions these facts:

OAKLAND, Calif.–Laura Lopez was running late. Inside the common room at Street Level Health Project clinic on Oakland’s International Boulevard, two Cambodian women and two Eritrean men were waiting for her. The group, representing Cambodian Community Development, Inc. and Eritrean Youth for Change, were here for one last meeting to prepare for an upcoming community health fair.

With the help of Lopez’s clinic, the refugee organizations were reaching out to their members to help them get basic health services…

…East Oakland…has been a resettlement site for a small but increasing numbers of refugees fleeing political repression in Burma, Bhutan, Nepal and other countries. Through one of their volunteers, who works at Eastmont Mall’s clinic, Lopez heard about a group of 22 Nepalese refugees who were HIV positive and getting no health care. Thus began the clinic’s work with the East Bay Refugee Forum and its members.

At the prep meeting for the community fair, Lopez and the refugee leaders were strategizing about how to pre-screen as many of their members as possible for health coverage enrollment at the May 19 event. This is no easy feat. At prior similar events, thousands of people eager for medical care had to be turned back for lack of required documents.

Jiwan Subba and Laxman Mahat from the Bhutanese Community in California have arrived to the meeting late from work. They raised the issue of Eastmont Mall’s and Highland Hospital’s six-month wait for primary care appointments. “By the time somebody gets an appointment, they’re dead,” Subba observed.

Mahat added that it happened to one of their community members… Read more here

Posted in Catholic Charities of the East Bay (Oakland), IRC, medical care, Nepali Bhutanese, Oakland | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Akron sees influx of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 23, 2012

There is now a surge of Nepali-Bhutanese refugees resettling to Akron, Ohio. This happens when refugees seek to join their relatives already resettled in a local area (refugees termed as “geo cases”) as well as my secondary migration from other US cities (the Nepali-Bhutanese may be hearing from friends and families that jobs are available in Akron). Of course the surge puts pressure on the local resettlement agency to find a lot of material-item donations – e.g. furniture, essential household items, clothes, toiletries – in a relatively short period. Akron’s Beacon-Journal newspaper explains:

When members of the Bhutanese family arrived in Akron from a refugee camp in Nepal, they had nothing but the clothes on their backs and a few keepsakes in a bag.

The International Institute of Akron provided them with a furnished apartment, a hot meal and all of life’s little essentials, including kitchen gadgets, towels, sheets, blankets and cleaning items.

It was a difficult life in the camps for 20 years,” said Bhim Subba, 50, who traveled to Akron with his wife and two children in February. “We were seeing no future there and decided to be resettled.”

The institute expects to serve a record number of refugees this month, with 85 already arriving as of late last week and the possibility of more in the remainder of the month. The figure is more than double the 30 to 40 refugees the agency normally gets in a month.

With the influx, the institute is looking for donations of basic items for the families.

We need it all,” said Debbie May-Johnson, executive director of the institute…

…May-Johnson said most of the refugees coming into Akron are from Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal and Burmese camps in Thailand. She said they are asking to come to Akron because they already have family here, with refugees from these camps settling in the city for the past five years.

May-Johnson said the institute has an equal number of refugees who come from other U.S. cities to Akron, seeking job opportunities and affordable housing… Read more here

Posted in Akron, International Institute of Akron, Nepali Bhutanese, secondary migration, refugee | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Donated mattresses, bedding and upholstered furniture hold risk of bed bug infestation

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 18, 2012

***UPDATE*** – April 24, 2012 — Dovetree Apartments alleges that only one apartment was affected by bed bug infestation

Bed bugs have infested at least 24 apartment units in an apartment building housing refugees in San Antonio. The resurgence of bedbugs is a problem throughout the United States (Note: like mosquitoes they take a blood meal from humans, however, unlike mosquitoes they transmit no diseases). Bedding donated to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio seems to be the culprit in this case. An article at KSAT has the story:

Refugees from all over the world came to San Antonio to escape war, poverty and persecution in their home countries, yet Pamela Espurvoa, a refugee advocate, said they arrived here only to encounter a bed bug infestation at the Dove Tree Apartments in the 4500 block of Gardendale.

Yet now, Pamela Raines, director of development for Catholic Charities, the agency responsible for their resettlement, said Dove Tree will begin treatment on Friday once the affected apartments are identified.

Catholic Charities will certainly cover it,” Raines said, referring to the cost of the extermination…

…Espurvoa said tenants of all ages were being bitten by the bugs. She said an exterminator told her the bed bugs were in the mattresses, walls, air ducts and clothing.

He couldn’t believe the magnitude of this, and this is only one unit,” Espurvoa said.

Espurvoa said she believes at least two dozen units are infested…

…Reason being, the apartment manager said, was that the infestation occurred after the refugees moved in.

Both she and Espurvoa said the likely source was the bedding that was donated, since the families arrived with next to nothing… Read more here

An article at the San Antonio Express-News indicates that several buildings are affected. Also, a Myanmar refugee said she had not reported the problem to apartment management despite a month-long infestation.

…Exterminators have been called to combat a bedbug problem at a Northwest Side apartment complex reserved for refugees seeking asylum.

The outbreak was reported Tuesday at the Dove Tree apartments in the 4500 block of Gardendale. Dove Tree is one of several San Antonio complexes where refugees settle after arriving through the United States Refugee Resettlement Program.

Catholic Charities is helping provide exterminators to spray affected units Friday, according to a source. The organization had no comment Tuesday night.

The pest problem has been reported to affect several buildings.

Nye Reh, from Myanmar, lives with his wife and five other relatives in a two-bedroom unit where a spray of insect droppings covers the corner of a mattress.

Reh said through a relative interpreting for him that he itches throughout the day.

Damanti Biswa said she sleeps near her front door to get away from the bugs. Tika Biswa interpreted for her, saying she’s had the problem for the past month and hadn’t reported the bugs to apartment management yet…

…The resurgence of bedbugs has been a problem throughout the United States, not only in apartments but also in the nicest hotels, said Roseann Vivanco, clinical instructor at the University of Texas Health Science Center…

Bedbugs don’t mean a person is dirty; they don’t discriminate between the rich or poor,” Vivanco said. “There does need to be some education, continuous cleaning, and they’ll need assistance with that. I’m glad to see that Catholic Charities has stepped up to the plate to help out.” Read more here

Posted in bed bugs, Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio Inc., Nepali Bhutanese, San Antonio, volunteers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Another apartment house fire, this time in Louisville

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 16, 2012

Slum lords are notorious for failing to address maintenance issues. One result of this is the danger of fire (and here) due to failure of landlords to keep up the premises. A Nepali refugee family found this out the hard way last Wednesday in Louisville. A note at the Catholic Charities Louisville website identifies one of the families displaced by the fire as refugees:

Catholic Charities (Louisville, KY) – The Hari Subedi refugee family of six, resettled by Catholic Charities about a year and half ago, was one of the families displaced in the Buechel Bank Road Apartment fire today. While they and other residents lost everything, there were no injuries due to the fire.

The Subedi family did not need emergency shelter and are currently living with another Nepali refugee family… Read more here

A tenant in the apartment where the fire started said she awoke to a pop and found a socket beside her daughter’s bed on fire. She claims she began telling her landlord of faulty sockets when she moved into her apartment two years ago. The landlord allegedly placed tape over sockets in the apartment’s kitchen and told her an electrician would repair them, yet an electrician never came to the apartment to inspect the sockets. An article at the Louisville Courier-Journal has more:

Officials are investigating a fire that destroyed a building and displaced eight families Wednesday afternoon at an apartment complex in the 2100 block of Buechel Bank Road…

…Chrishawna Johnson, who was asleep in the apartment where the fire started, said she believes the fire was caused by an electrical short.

I heard a pop and I jumped up,” Johnson said. “When I came out of my room, my daughter’s bedroom was on fire. The socket beside her bed was on fire.”

Johnson said she began telling her landlord — whom she could not identify — of faulty sockets when she moved into her apartment two years ago. The landlord placed tape over sockets in the apartment’s kitchen and told Johnson an electrician would repair them, Johnson said.

An electrician never came to the apartment to inspect the sockets, Johnson said.

A message left at Willowbrook’s leasing office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

No sprinklers were present in the building, and no fire hydrants are on the property… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., housing, housing, substandard, Louisville, Nepali Bhutanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Segue Refugee Partners Ministries Hopes To Convert Bhutanese In Dallas

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 23, 2012

A Baptist organization is hoping to lead Nepali-Bhutanese refugees in Dallas away from their Hindu cultural roots. Segue Refugee Partners Ministries will help out the refugees as a prelude to their agenda.

Will they be honest and upfront with the refugees and tell them what the plan is?

…Matthew Johnston and Elizabeth Hall lead Segue Refugee Partners Ministries, the nonprofit organization… They have been connecting with Bhutanese refugees for more than a year…Segue’s vision is to build partnerships and relationships between these Bhutanese refugees and American Christians who are willing to relate and help out in whatever way they can. The refugees have a variety of needs, from help them deal with insurance-related issues regarding health care to finding jobs in the city. The hope is also to lead the refugees from a Hindu background into a relationship with Jesus Christ… Read more here

Posted in Baptist, converting refugees, Dallas/Fort Worth, faith-based, Hindu, Nepali Bhutanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Telephone Scam Update

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 21, 2012

***UPDATE*** Feb. 23, 2012 — Refugee woman in Colorado Springs bilked out of $1600

The ORR gave the following update today regarding a telephone scam targeting Bhutanese refugees first reported in January:

In early January, we circulated a message concerning a telephone scam targeting refugees. At that time, a man was calling Bhutanese refugees, identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, 202-436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they were eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan. To claim the money, they were instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money.

We have received updated reports that the scam is still on-going, but some of the details have since changed.  Most recently, refugees (again, still Bhutanese) have received calls from a man who identifies himself as “Nathan Price with the IRS” calling from a different DC-based telephone number, 202-657-4189, who instructs the refugees to have money wired to various people in India.

The most recent target of this scam lost over $6,000.

ORR advises everyone to be aware of this scam, and avoid giving any personal information or making payments to unknown callers.

Please note that the federal government does not demand processing fees, security deposits, or overseas wire transfers from grant recipients or refugees.  If you are the target of a suspicious request, please contact your local police or resettlement agency for further assistance.

Posted in Nepali Bhutanese, ORR, scams | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Attacks On Bhutanese Refugees Continue in Harrisburg, PA

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 19, 2012

A local friend of the Bhutanese refugees in Harrisburg contacted us to report that the attacks on the refugees have continued since police reported earlier this month that they suspected a small group of local teens.

I live near Harrisburg Pennsylvania and became involved with the refugee community there in 2010. I am deeply troubled by the victimization that they experience and would like to see more attention brought to it…most of it in the area on Green Street, but some in the area of Magnolia Hill (Thomas street off of Market). Robberies, assaults, and even entry into homes. It has them afraid to be outside. Some families have already fled the Green Street area…[since the police began investigating a group of teenagers] the problems haven’t gotten better…it’s probably the same…kids. Police don’t really help. However, the refugees are starting to think defensively. I’ve bought pepper spray for some of them and instructed them on its use.

Posted in Harrisburg-Mechanicsburg, Nepali Bhutanese, police, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Refugees In Harrisburg Hit By String Of Strong-Arm Robberies and Attacks

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 2, 2012

***UPDATE** February 7, 2012 — Police say a group of five or six local high school age teens responsible.

Police believe that refugees have been targeted in a string of strong-arm robberies and attacks since January in Harrisburg, Penn. A blurb at FOX-43 explains:

Since early January into February, Harrisburg Police are investigating a string of strong-arm robberies and attacks that have struck the Uptown Harrisburg neighborhood.

Police believe many of the attacks have targeted refugees…

…The attacks have ripped the quiet and diverse community apart said Tanya Jones, who has several neighbors from Nepal, “They are very descent people to live around.”… Read more here

Posted in Harrisburg-Mechanicsburg, Nepali Bhutanese, police, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bill Introduced Into NH State Legislature Giving Cities Ability To Declare 1-year Moratorium On New Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 10, 2012

Representatives in New Hampshire’s state legislature this month introduced a bill to give cities the ability to declare a one-year moratorium on new refugees. An article at Yahoo News explains:

MANCHESTER, N.H.–With Mitt Romney’s strength in the polls in New Hampshire, the mayor of the state’s biggest city hopes that a resolution to what he calls “the refugee resettlement question” will soon be at hand…

…In July, the city’s aldermen took the unusual step of passing a bill requesting a two-year moratorium on new refugee resettlement… After interviewing city leaders and refugees, the State Department reduced the number of new refugees that would be settled in Manchester during this fiscal year–which began in October–from 300 to 200…

…Leaders in the local Bhutanese community are happy that the moratorium failed, but they remain wary of the mayor’s insistence that the city can’t handle more refugees. This month, representatives in the state legislature introduced a bill to give cities the ability to declare a one-year moratorium on new refugees, suggesting that the debate over their place in New Hampshire is far from over…

…”The moratorium that he is talking about has really created a lot of mental disturbances and tension to the communities who are already here,” Narad Adhikari, who moved to Manchester five months ago and is still looking for work, told Yahoo News…

The article also mentions that USCRI’s International Institute lumped all the refugees in one English class, ignoring skill levels (which has long proven counterproductive):

…many Bhutanese families in Manchester do not speak English, according to Acharya. The English classes provided by the International Institute–and paid for by the federal government–lump together refugees who have never had a day’s education with those who have spent years in a classroom, hampering the progress of both groups, he says.

The students Subedi works with sometimes act out in class because they receive less homework and lighter discipline than they did at the United Nations-run schools in the refugee camp.

“It’s easier here, so sometimes they try to take advantage of it,” Subedi said. Read more here

Posted in ESL & ELL, language, legislation, legislation, moratorium / restriction / reduction, Nepali Bhutanese, New Hampshire, State Department | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Scammers Target Refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 4, 2012

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is alerting people to a new scam that targets refugees:

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been alerted to a new telephone scam apparently targeting Bhutanese refugees. A man identifying himself as a representative of the “Federal Grants Department” calls from a Washington, DC-based telephone number, (202) 436-9601, informing recently resettled refugees that they are eligible to receive $10,000 because they are refugees from Bhutan. To claim the money, they are instructed to produce a money order for $650, and call the telephone number for further instructions on where to send the money…

…At least one refugee has been coerced into making multiple payments as “processing fees”, totaling more than $5,000.

So far, reports are localized in Texas, but ORR advises everyone to be aware of this scam and avoid giving any personal information or payments to unknown callers… Read more here

Another type of scam, this one in Australia, involves people on the phone posing as utility salespeople, and telling refugees that they need to verify details of their accounts. See Brimbank Weekly article:

REFUGEES and migrants with little or poor English are being targeted by door-to-door utilities salespeople, leading to large debts and disconnection of services for some.

Footscray Community Legal Centre financial counsellor Anita Smith said unscrupulous practices by door-knockers were still continuing, despite a campaign to stamp out the practice that involved distributing “do not knock” stickers to residents…

…”One of the tactics the salespeople use is to say that people need to verify their details and then get them to answer questions on the phone. The people then find that their accounts have been changed.”

Others seek help after a visit from a salesperson posing as a government representative, who makes the resident feel compelled to switch.

Many Burmese Chin people in the west are having problems with salespeople… Read more here

Posted in Chin, Nepali Bhutanese, ORR, scams, Texas | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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