Navigation Links
For refugees from Burma, hope of better life in US turns into extreme poverty, isolation

Refugees who have fled Burma to live in Oakland, Calif., are at risk of becoming a permanent, poverty-stricken underclass warns a new report released today by researchers at San Francisco State University and the Burma Refugee Family Network (BRFN). The report found that almost 60 percent of Oakland's refugees from Burma are living in extreme poverty.

Since 2007, thousands of refugees from war-torn Burma have been resettled by the U.S. federal government and an estimated 400 individuals have been resettled in Oakland.

Burma, also known as Myanmar, has been under military rule since 1962. Ethnic minorities make up 40 percent of the country's population and many refugees are from the Karen and Karenni ethnic groups, have been the targets of brutal military attacks and persecution by Burma's Army.

"These recent refugees from Burma are facing dire circumstances," said Russell Jeung, associate professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. "The recession and government cuts in adult English classes mean that even though they want to work, these refugees have no opportunity to learn English or workplace skills in order to adapt to life in the U.S."

Jeung and his students, together with BRFN and other community-based organizations, surveyed 194 refugees from Burma to assess the community's needs. The researchers found that in addition to high poverty rates, these refugees face barriers to accessing employment, health care and government benefits caused by their lack of English. These barriers have been exacerbated by recent cuts in the provision of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and a lack of appropriate interpretation services.

"Refugees from Burma are brought here to escape years of persecution and hardship, and are hoping for a better life in the U.S., but instead they are being neglected and caught in a web of poverty," said Zar Ni Maung of BRFN. "Here, we should have more human rights and opportunities, but we still struggle and must work together to overcome these challenges."

The report found that among Oakland's refugee population from Burma:

  • 63 percent are unemployed. Those that are employed have sporadic, low-wage jobs.
  • 57 percent live below the federal threshold for extreme poverty, earning less than $1,000 per month for an average household size of five. Most of the remainder live below the federal poverty line.
  • 38 percent speak no English at all. Another 28 percent speak English poorly.
  • 74 percent report that lack of English is their biggest barrier to accessing health care.
  • 47 percent report that English classes are the most-needed service in their community.

The outlook is particularly difficult for refugees from Burma's Karen and Karenni ethnic groups, which make up the majority of the refugees from Burma that have resettled in Oakland. These ethnic groups originate from some of the poorest and least developed states in Burma. They fled their home states in eastern Burma to escape military attacks and human rights abuses. Now resettled in Oakland, refugees of Karenni origin are struggling to adapt to life in the United States: 81 percent are unemployed, 90 percent are living in extreme poverty and 90 percent have no high school education.

"These ethnic groups are faring the worst," Jeung said. "They are the least educated, the least empowered and many of them only speak their own ethnic language, which means they can't understand Burmese translators and are locked out of accessing the services they need."

The report's recommendations include an extension of the federal Refugee Cash Assistance Program, which currently only provides support to refugees for eight months after their arrival in the U.S. It also calls for direct support for refugee community organizations helping their own communities and the funding and training of interpreters in ethnic languages and increased provision of adult ESL classes, particularly classes appropriate for learners with low levels of formal schooling.

"Our findings suggest that resettlement programs in Oakland are not yet successful," Maung said. "We would like to see federal and local refugee government agencies and nonprofits working together with and supporting grassroots community organizations in order to help members of our community achieve self-sufficiency."


Contact: Elaine Bible
San Francisco State University

Related medicine news :

1. Autism-Related Hypersensitivity Better Understood
2. Developing guidelines for better reporting of health research
3. Offers 10 Tips To Beat The Winter Blues: Things You Can Do Right Now to Have a Better Day
4. Better care at any hour for palliative patients
5. Patients Do Better at Hospitals That Follow Stroke Guidelines
6. More Expensive Hospital Care May Not Mean Better
7. New MRI May Lead to Better Brain Pictures
8. Biological clock could be a key to better health, longer life
9. Why do physicians order costly CTs? Ultrasound yields better diagnosis, safer, less costly
10. BetterInvesting Magazine Releases May Stock to Study and Undervalued Stock Choices for Investors Informational and Educational Use
11. New approach to immune cell analysis seen as first step to better distinguish health and disease
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... ... Scientists in Seattle and Vancouver compared the diagnostic value of lung fluid cytology ... has just posted an article on the new research. Click here to read ... of British Columbia found that certain genetic alterations were seen just as often in ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... Tempe Dental Care, a leading Tempe ... and IV sedation dentistry for more than 5 years. A leading cause ... serious and painful if treatment is not timely. , Sedation dentistry ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2015 , ... Local Gold’s ... Gold’s Gym International Conference on August 26. Berry, who owns and operates Gold's ... for the fastest growing Gold’s Gyms in the United States. A brand leader in ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... Thermi, an ... newest professional to introduce the latest development, ThermiVa® temperature controlled radiofrequency to the ... professional in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a pioneer in the field of laparoscopy. ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... October 13, 2015 , ... In an ongoing effort ... , a Southlake, Texas, child development and pediatric therapy center, is working with ... families about their options for receiving this kind of care for affected children. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... Calif. , Oct. 13, 2015  SRI ... up to $100 million over five years by ... (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, ... treat acute or delayed effects of radiation exposure. ... a division of SRI International will provide services, ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13 2015 ... the addition of the "US & ... 16 Countries (2010-2021)" report to their ... announced the addition of the "US ... - 16 Countries (2010-2021)" report to ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... 13, 2015 anesthesia and respiratory ... billion by 2022, according to a new report by ... to their capability to resolve various environmental and lifestyle ... growth. --> anesthesia and respiratory devices market ... 2022, according to a new report by Grand View ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: