Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘Nepali-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 »

A resettlement agency finally writes a guidebook for refugees

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 24, 2011

Last May Nancy Lee wrote a post suggesting the need for a handbook or manual for refugees to have as a guide through resettlement. Finally one refugee resettlement contractor is preparing one – albeit only for Nepali-Bhutanese refugees resettled in New Hampshire. The handbook will focus on the difficulties faced by refugees as they adapt to their new life in America. This effort comes three years after the US began resettling 60,000 Nepali-Bhutanese refugees here. An article on PRWeb explains:

Lutheran Social Services (LSS) Services for New Americans will develop and publish a bi-lingual guidebook for Bhutanese refugees resettled in New Hampshire.

Funded by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Nepali/English Handbook for Living in the USA will focus on the difficulties faced by refugees as they adapt to their new life in America. LSS will subcontract with S & T Communications to produce the handbook.

S&T Communications, located in Manchester, NH voluntarily publishes Aksharica Nepali Newsletter ( for Nepali speaking refugees and immigrants living in the US. On behalf of S&T Communications, Rajesh Koirala, the editor of Aksharica will write the handbook. Rajesh has over 15 years of experience in writing and journalism.

The U.S. Government began resettling Bhutanese refugees in March 2008. Since that time, more than 1,200 Nepali speaking refugees have made New Hampshire their new home in America.

Most refugees have spent a considerable part of their lives in refugee camps. New Hampshire offers them a safe haven, but an entirely new set of rules, customs and systems. Coping with this culture shock can prove difficult. The handbook will provide an easy reference allowing Bhutanese refugees to receive information about their new communities at their own pace… Read more here

Posted in community/cultural orientation, cultural adjustment, cultural/community orientation, post arrival, language, Lutheran, Lutheran Social Services of New Hampshire, Nepali Bhutanese, New Hampshire | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Police shoot man to death at Columbus apartment complex after tensions involving Bhutanese escalate

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 29, 2011

Tensions between black and Nepali-Bhutanese residents of a North Side Columbus apartment complex reached a peak last week when officers were called on a report of a fight that included a man with a gun. The story is in The Columbus Dispatch:

The fight that resulted in the shooting death of a man by a Columbus police officer on Wednesday night apparently was the result of racial tensions between black and Nepalese residents of a North Side apartment complex, neighbors said.

Residents of the complex said a melee broke out between four black men and as many as 20 Nepalese immigrants, all of whom live in the Breckenridge Apartments off Shanley Drive.

About 100 Nepales refugees live in the complex, said a woman from Nepal who lives there. She said the racial tensions are ongoing, and she asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

Yesterday, police still wouldn’t release the name of the man who died shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Ohio State University Medical Center…

…The incident began, Columbus police said, when officers were called about 8:30 p.m. to 1666 Shanley Dr. on a report of a fight that included a man with a gun.

Just as officers arrived, they heard gunshots, said Sgt. Christine Nemchev, spokeswoman for Columbus police.

Two officers went into a crowd that was fighting in the apartment-complex courtyard, and one of them got into a scuffle with an armed man. That man was shot by the officer’s partner, according to police… Read more here

Another article identifies the man killed by police as 21-year-old Francis Owens.

My question is a simple one: What did the refugees’ resettlement agency do to help them resolve the escalating tensions? Some landlords let disruptive and hostile tenants in, and its at that point that other tenants need to think about getting out. Did the resettlement agency place these refugees at the apartment complex? Did the agency help the Nepalese try to negotiate through the tricky situation?

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

Search continues for 3 missing Nepali-Bhutanese in Washington state

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 4, 2011

Police are still investigating Washington state case involving three young Nepali-Bhutanese men who have been missing since June 11. They were last seen with a friend at an apartment complex in Spokane. Police are looking for a black 2003 Acura with Washington license plate 933ZGH that the young men were seen in. Anyone with information about the men can call the Tukwila Police at 206-433-1808 or an anonymous tip line at
206-431-3689. If anyone sees the men, they should call 911. The
Tukwila Reporter has more:

The search continues this month by Tukwila Police and Spokane Police for three missing Bhutanese men, including two men from Tukwila and one from Spokane.

Dilli Ram Bhattarai, 28 and Krishna L. Dhital, 21, both of Tukwila, and Krishna Dhakal, 17, of Spokane, have been missing since June 11, according to a media release from the Bhutanese Community Resource Center in SeaTac. The men were reported missing June 13 by family members.

Bhattarai and Dhital traveled to Spokane to visit family. The three were last seen with a friend at an apartment complex in Spokane. Bhattarai and Dhakal are cousins and Dhital was a neighbor while the three were in refugee camps in Nepal.

Tukwila Police are working with Spokane Police to find the men, according to a July 1 email from Mike Murphy, Tukwila Police spokesman. Spokane is the lead investigator because the men were last seen in that area.

“We have a detective assigned as well and we are working with Spokane to coordinate our effort,” Murphy said. “I am not aware of anything that appears to be foul play but, as you know from the family, this is highly unusual and that angle is not yet ruled out.”

Family members told police that culturally, it’s very uncommon that the men have run away from their relatives. Relatives suspect the men might be in life-threatening situations…

Bhattarai is the father of a baby girl. He was scheduled to report to work on June 13. Dhital just graduated from Foster High School in Tukwila. Dhakal, a sophomore, was to report back to school in Spokane after the weekend they went missing… Read more here

Posted in Nepali Bhutanese, police, Spokane, Washington, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nepali-Bhutanese young men disappear in Spokane

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 21, 2011

**UPDATE** — July 7, 2011

Media outlets are reporting that three young Nepali-Bhutanese men went missing ten days ago in North Spokane, Washington. The three were last seen playing soccer at a local park, going home to eat, and then heading out again. NWCN has the story:

SPOKANE, Wash. – Police need help finding three young men who went missing ten days ago.

They are Bhutanese refugees who came to Washington two years ago.

Family and friends say the men were at Mission Park in North Spokane playing soccer just before they went missing. They came home, had dinner, and then went out again. That’s the last time anyone saw them.

Family members filed a missing person’s report. Now loved ones and staff at World Relief are trying to get the word out about the mysterious disappearance… Read more here

Another article at KXLY-4 reports that two young men, Bhattarai and Dhital, are from Tukwila (in western Washington) and that Dhakal, a 17-year-old, is from Spokane.

…17-year-old Krishna Dhakal, a Lewis and Clark High School student, 28-year-old Dilli Ram Bhattarai and 21-year-old Krishna Dhital disappeared two weeks ago. They were last seen shortly after playing soccer at a park near Whittier Pool on June 11.

…When Dhakal didn’t show up for finals at Lewis and Clark two weeks ago, police and his mom knew something wasn’t right. Dhakal was last seen with his cousin Dilli Ram Bhattarai and his friend Krishna Dhital. Bhattarai and Dhital are both from Tukwila in western Washington. No one has seen them or been able to reach them by cellphone.

[family friend Anna] Demmert says the Bhutanese are a very trusting culture and she’s afraid that may have landed Dhakal, Bhattarai and Dhital in trouble… Read more here

On a video clip Dhakal’s mother says via an interperter that they tried calling the three but that their cellphones are “not working”.

If you have any information please call Crime Check 509-456-2233.

Posted in Nepali Bhutanese, safety, Spokane, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Clues to cause of tire blow-out and rollover of 15-passenger van in Georgia

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 18, 2011

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia sent us a copy of the crash report for the single vehicle crash involving the 15-passenger Chevrolet 3500 van, and the report confirms their spokeswoman’s earlier statement that a tire blow-out was the apparent cause of the crash.

There were 13 refugees injured and two killed (one man was ejected out the back door of the van and decapitated ; the other man killed was thrown to the rear cargo area and entrapped). Injuries included fractured ribs, severe internal injuries, severe head injuries, a severed right hand, and the front passenger’s left arm was severed below the elbow (emergency personnel extricated him due to entrapment). The youngest passenger, a 20-year-old male Sudanese refugee, suffered a broken jaw (the driver and 12 passengers were Nepali-Bhutanese refugees, and there were two African refugee passengers). All of the 15 people were traveling to their Perdue chicken-processing factory jobs in Perry, 106 miles south of their homes in Atlanta. The report says that an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) official claimed that World Relief supplied the refugees with the jobs. There is no mention of RRISA, as in media reports.

Several witnesses in vehicles traveling in the same direction heard a loud sound before the van went out of control — one described it as a “pow” and another described it as a “pop”. The vehicle swerved off I-75, crossed the median, and hit a guard rail support on the other side — causing it to flip over front-to-back, land upside down on the guard rail, then make a full sideways roll and landing upside down. 

The crash report also gives clues about the cause of the left rear tire blow-out. Both of the front tires were in very good condition (“like new”), with 3/4 inch tread depth on each tire. The two rear tires, however — both Uniroyal Laredo LT245/75R16 with load range E — were not in very good condition, with “some dry rot present”. The right rear tire had about 1/4 inch tread depth and the tread was partially torn. The left rear tire, the tire that failed before the crash, lost its tread during the crash leaving only the cords and steel belts exposed. There was also a tear on the left rear tire that went from outer sidewall to inner sidewall. So, perhaps the left rear tire blew-out due to severe wear and/or dry rot, and not due to tire over-inflation or under-inflation as I earlier surmised.

Another issue, according to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is that these 15-passenger vans, when used as directed, with up to 15 passengers, are more likely to roll over, by 9-12 percent per passenger added, due to an increase in the height of the center of gravity. In other words, the purpose of the vehicle, to transport up to 15 passengers, is also the source of these vehicles’ risk. The higher the occupancy the higher the risk. I suspect, though, that fully loaded vehicles — with  tires that are not properly maintained and replaced when necessary — are much more likely to have a tire blow-out initiating the rollover. A driver inexperienced with handling a large passenger van, especially a new driver inexperienced with driving any vehicle, would no doubt also increase the rollover risk due to inexperience with handling (although a fully loaded 15-passenger van that experiences a tire blow-out at high-speed would, no doubt, be extremely difficult if not impossible to control even for an experienced van driver).

Posted in Atlanta, economic self-sufficiency, employment/jobs for refugees, Georgia, ICE, meatpacking industry, Nepali Bhutanese, passenger van roll-over, safety, transportation, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Another van crash involving refugees in Georgia

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 11, 2011

Just five days after I posted the story on a passenger van accident in Georgia involving refugees killed and injured there was yet another passenger van crash in Georgia involving refugees — on Wed. April 6, 2011. The Bhutan News Service reports that this time a Bhutanese refugee returning from a chicken processing plant in an automobile allegedly collided with a van carrying seven passengers while attempting to overtake the van. The van was also returning Bhutanese refugees to their homes in Atlanta after working at the chicken processing factory. The drive of the car is apparently missing.
A few resettled Bhutanese were injured when an overtaking car hit and veered off a van on Tuesday morning at 4:30 am local time. Of them, one is critical.
According to the report, Rohit Dhakal, 32, was seriously injured when a car driven by another resettled fellow of Beldangi-II allegedly collided with a van carrying seven passengers while overtaking…
…“He is critically injured and being treated in the hospital now,” Hemu told Bhutan News Service…
…The driver of the van, who received minor injuries, is reported to have told Hemu that the vehicle over-turned a number of times before its [tire] got blown off… Read more here
The Bhutan News Service has another update to that article.
The former Bhutanese refugee who met with a car accident recently in Atlanta, GA has been in coma for four days.
According to Narad Sharma, a close relative who has been taking care of the victim since he met with an accident, the victim has been undergoing medical treatment at Grady Health System in South-east Atlanta.
He underwent head surgery on the same day of accident, and has been scheduled for the next one tonight”, says Sharma adding the victim may have to undergo series of surgeries…the victim is out of danger but he may have brain haemorrhage that can have long term complications…
…Rohit met with an accident last Wednesday when he was returning from his work as the van driven by Amit Thapa, a fellow worker at the Chicken factory was overtaken by another speeding car. Read more here
Oddly, AccessNorthGA has an article from April 6th which reports that the crash occurred near Gainesville in northern Georgia, but that it happened after the van’s (a minivan) driver struck a curb, lost control, and then hit a tractor-trailer. That article lists a different first name for the van driver, although the same last name, and gives the accident time as 3:30am, though the Bhutan News Service said it occurred at 4:30am.
GAINESVILLE – At least one person was injured early Wednesday when a minivan and a tractor trailer collided on the southside of Gainesville.
Gainesville Police Officer Joe Britte said the accident happened when the driver of the minivan struck a curb as he tried to turn from Athens Highway onto the southbound Interstate 985 entrance ramp.
“It struck the curb then lost control of the vehicle and struck the tractor trailer,” he said.


“It struck the curb then lost control of the vehicle and struck the tractor trailer,” he said.
Britte said the driver of the minivan, 22-year-old Mahendra Thapa, was injured in the incident. He
said the driver of the tractor trailer, Grady Tritt, was not.
Britte said the accident, which occurred around 3:30a.m., is still under investigation.


Posted in Atlanta, Georgia, Hindu, meatpacking industry, Nepali Bhutanese, passenger van roll-over, safety, transportation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees killed & injured in another passenger van crash

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 30, 2011

2002 Chevrolet 3500 extended

There’s been yet another tragic van roll-over accident involving refugees killed and severely injured — this time in Georgia, on I-75 between Atlanta and Macon. The deadly single-vehicle crash occurred on March 22 in Monroe county; two Bhutanese refugee men were killed and 13 other Nepali-Bhutanese and African refugees were injured. One of the men killed was also ejected from the vehicle. Several of the injured victims remain in the hospital in critical condition. This crash seems to involve the same (or similar) cause as a van roll-over crash in Arizona near Tuscon in June 2009 —  failure of one of the van’s tires (may have been due to over-inflation, under-inflation, or road debris, etc.). The Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), a joint affiliate of Church World Service (CWS) and Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), resettled the refugees in Atlanta. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains what happened.

A tight-knit community of refugees from Bhutan is reeling from a van crash that claimed the lives of two men and injured another 13 people as they traveled from Atlanta to their jobs at a chicken plant in Perry.

Some of the injured remained in critical condition in a Macon hospital Tuesday, according to people who know them. And some of the victims were parents whose children were left with no breadwinner…

The crash occurred around 9 p.m. on March 22 in Monroe County. The Chevrolet 3500 van they were riding in went off the road, hit a guardrail and overturned, according to the website of the The Herald-Gazette newspaper in Barnesville. The crash blocked traffic on southbound I-75 for nearly three hours.

Two men, both from Decatur, died: Tula R. Chamlagai, 44, and Kharka B. Chhetri, 49…

…The van passengers were on their regular nightly commute to a Perdue chicken-processing plant two hours south of Atlanta. They had been making the trek five times a week, Kafley said.

Two of the victims were African nationals and the rest were refugees from Bhutan. They knew each other because they’d been brought to DeKalb County by the same resettlement agency, the Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, Kafley said. Read more here

An article in The Telegraph in Macon gives more information:

…At least one of the passengers, either Chamlagai or Chhetri, was ejected from the van. It’s unknown whether any of the passengers were wearing seat belts, said Allison Selman-Willis, a sheriff’s office spokeswoman.

By the time we got there, people were everywhere,” she said.

It was unclear Wednesday whether members of the group were paying for the ride to Perry or if they were a carpooling group.

Thirteen of the vehicle’s occupants originally hailed from Asia. Two are from Ghana, Selman-Willis said.

The driver of the van, 29-year-old Bhim B. Bista of Atlanta, also owned the van. He was not tested for alcohol, she said.

We don’t expect any charges for him,” Selman-Willis said.

Bista has been released from The Medical Center of Central Georgia. Three of his passengers underwent surgery Wednesday. The other surviving passengers were kept at the hospital Wednesday for observation, she said… Read more here

That article and an article in The Herald-Gazette newspaper in Barnesville indicates that the crash resulted from the failure of one of the van’s tires. I’m wondering if this was similarly due to tire over-inflation, as in the June 2009 Arizona (Texas Canyon) passenger van crash. In that tragedy six Burundian refugees resettled by IRC died; 11 others sustained injuries. The IRC was working with a company called Eurofresh that employed the refugees. In that case, the van was overloaded with passengers, the driver sped up to an estimated 80 mph to pass another vehicle, and a overinflated tire blew-out and the van hit a guide rail, resulting in a rollover.

How many of these tragedies must we have before we start doing something differently? It may just be a matter of regularly observing and checking tire inflation. On the other hand if any new, tiny leak or picking up a nail, or a blowout from an over-pressured tire, means that these top-heavy vehicles will lose control and roll, why do people continue to fully load these vans with refugee client passengers? Are resettlement agencies advising these refugees to keep tire pressure at correct levels and to not fully load them with passengers? If not, these tragedies will continue unabated.

**UPDATE** — Five injured victims discharged from hospital, two still critical, two have a hand amputated (Bhutan News Service). A commenter writes that [Sheriff’s Office?] claims that it seems that none of the passengers was wearing seat belt.

Posted in Atlanta, Burundian, Georgia, meatpacking industry, Nepali Bhutanese, passenger van roll-over, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta (RRISA), safety, transportation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »