Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘bhutanese’

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 »

Refugees preyed on in Columbus

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 19, 2012

Last October police shot to death a man who struggled with them after trying to rob a Nepali Bhutanese refugee at a low-income North Side apartment complex where local resettlement agencies have placed them. Another media look into the situation at the apartment complexes shows that many refugees’ apartments have been burglarized since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago. People also walk up to them and ask for money, with some refugees handing over cash just so they’ll be left alone and then not reporting the incidents to police. The article, however, also gives a clue about police-community relations by noting that police arrested a Nepali Bhutanese refugee for littering when he merely dropped a store receipt outside a convenience store. (Arrested for littering?) An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the story:

When Narayan Sharma returned to his North Side apartment on June 6, he was stunned to discover that someone had broken in.

He said he was shocked that the thieves apparently had no fear of being caught when they hauled out his 42-inch television, a laptop computer, a checkbook and cash during the daytime burglary.

Crime, Sharma said, was not a big problem during his 16 years in a refugee camp in the Himalayan country of Nepal. But it’s something he and other Bhutanese Nepali refugees have had to deal with since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago.

One of the reasons is where many of them live — concentrated in several apartment complexes near Morse Road in the Northland area.

Our expectation is to have safety and security,” said Bhim Basnet, who lives in the Breckenridge Apartments with his wife and four children, the oldest a 16-year-old girl, the youngest a 9-month-old son…

…He said he would like to see police patrolling the area. Community leaders and groups who work with the refugees estimate that their number has grown to more than 2,000 in little more than a year.

Sharma said that a number of refugees’ apartments have been burglarized and that people walk up to the refugees and ask for money. Some refugees hand over cash just so they’ll be left alone, said Damaru Adhikari, who works at the US Together refugee-resettlement agency.

Sharma…said: “They find easy targets, and people don’t complain.”

On Feb. 29, a 35-year-old Bhutanese Nepali refugee was arrested for littering outside a North Side convenience store. He said he dropped a receipt.

The charge, a third-degree misdemeanor, ultimately was dismissed, but the man had to pay $92 in court costs.

The incident “really scared” him, said his attorney, Edward Forman. “I can’t imagine in a million years he would be arrested for that.”… Read more here

Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, police, US Together | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

 
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