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Somali Refugees

Somalia, located in the horn of Africa, is said to be home to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world at this time. The following are some estimates concerning this crisis:

  • More than 300,000 internally-displaced individuals live in Mogadishu, the capital city.
  • Up to 1.5 million Somalis have been internally displaced within their own country.
  • Nearly an additional 1 million Somalis are seeking refuge in neighboring countries outside of Somalia.
  • The largest refugee camp in the world is south of Somalia in Dadaab, Kenya, and holds more than 463,000 Somalis.

Minnesota now hosts more Somali refugees than anywhere else in the United States, estimated to be as many as 75,000. They have come here as victims of civil war, famine, and often having witnessed other tragedies. A lot of Somalis, particularly in Minneapolis, have shown that they have a strong entrepreneurial drive. I’ve enjoyed walking through two Somali malls in Minneapolis, “Karmel” and “24,” and my favorite Somali coffee shop, “1st Cup Cafe,” has been full of people every time I’ve been there.

St. Paul seems to be uncharted territory for Somali business ventures, but we’re hoping that St. Paul Cultural Village will be a good avenue to see that changed. For a number of months now, a group of Somali ladies have been coming into International Village¬†on Rice Street for free ESL classes.

This 8.5-minute video clip portrays the typical journey of Somalis who found themselves experiencing refugee life in Ethiopia or Kenya:

This 2-minute clip describes some of the struggles that Somali young people have experienced since coming to the United States:

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Refugees, Somalia

 

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Karen Refugees

The Karen (or Kayin) people make up about 7% of the nearly 60 million people living in Myanmar (Burma). They are generally located in the southern or southeastern part of this Southeast Asian nation. A brutal military regime and a tragic cyclone in May 2008 are a couple of the reasons why approximately 150,000 Burmese refugees now live in camps across the border in Thailand, and why more Burmese refugees (15,000) located to the United States between 2006-2009 than any other ethnic group.

The largest and fastest growing Karen population is right here in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which is also home to the first Karen-led non-profit agency in the US, the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM). According to KOM, around 6,500 Karen people currently live in Minnesota. I (Adam) have had the privilege of meeting some of them, including several who attend International Village Church in the north end of Saint Paul.

This video (nearly 11 minutes long) contains footage from Myanmar, and helps to explain why this refugee crisis has been created and some of the ways that refugees are being helped:

Please enjoy this five-minute video of a traditional Karen dance performance that took place in Burnsville, Minnesota in May 2011:

And this is footage of a Karen cultural event in St. Paul, Minnesota in October 2012. My wife and I were privileged to be there for the last half of it:

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Karen

 

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Bhutanese Refugees

One of the newest and growing refugee communities in Saint Paul, Minnesota is the Bhutanese people. Many of them spent time in refugee camps in Nepal before locating to Minnesota. As a result, Nepali tends to be the first language of the Bhutanese people living in the north end of St. Paul.

This video, put to song, captures images of what life has been like for many of these refugees:

This video captures footage of Bhutanese refugees who have been resettled in Minnesota, including some of them sharing a little bit of their stories, and other footage of cultural events held here:

This video recounts some of the history behind the present refugee situation for the Bhutanese people (more photos and music):

This video was created by the United Nations as an effort to share the story of refugees from Bhutan:

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Bhutanese

 

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