Myan­mar refugees com­prise third­largest bloc ad­mit­ted to US

The Myanmar Times - - News - NICK BAKER n.baker@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR na­tion­als made up the third-largest group of refugees re­set­tled in the US over the past fis­cal year, which con­cluded at the end of Septem­ber.

Depart­ment of State data showed that of the 84,995 refugees pro­cessed by the US from Oc­to­ber 2015 to last month, 12,347 were from Myan­mar, just be­hind the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo (16,370) and Syria (12,587).

The Myan­mar co­hort in­cluded 6785 Chris­tians, 3127 Mus­lims and 1362 Bud­dhists.

“The US re­set­tle­ment pro­gram serves refugees who are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble,” a State Depart­ment fact sheet about the 2016 refugee in­take said.

There were refugees ad­mit­ted un­der the pro­gram from 79 coun­tries but “over 70 per­cent fled five coun­tries: the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq and So­ma­lia, where pro­tracted con­flicts have driven mil­lions from their homes”.

The US State Depart­ment said that more than 72pc of the re­set­tled refugees were women and chil­dren.

“Many are sin­gle moth­ers, sur­vivors of tor­ture, peo­ple who need ur­gent med­i­cal treat­ment, re­li­gious mi­nori­ties, les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, or in­ter­sex (LGBTI) per­sons, or oth­ers im­per­iled by vi­o­lence and per­se­cu­tion.”

The top five states that ac­cepted refugees were Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, New York, Michi­gan and Ohio.

These num­bers come not long after US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced a new ceil­ing of 110,000 refugees to be re­set­tled in the 2017 fis­cal year.

This rep­re­sents a 57pc in­crease over the 70,000 refugees ad­mit­ted in the 2015 fis­cal year.

The State Depart­ment said this in­crease was “con­sis­tent with the be­lief that all na­tions must do more to help the record num­ber of in­no­cent civil­ians who are up­rooted, cast adrift, and des­per­ate to find peace, safety and the chance to re­build their lives”.

How­ever the num­ber of refugees ac­cepted in the US con­tin­ues to be minis­cule com­pared to the to­tal num­ber of peo­ple seek­ing re­set­tle­ment around the world.

Num­bers from the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees shows that there are more than 60 mil­lion dis­placed peo­ple in­ter­na­tion­ally – a to­tal that counts both those liv­ing in­side and out­side of their home coun­tries.

This rep­re­sents the high­est share of the world’s population that has been dis­placed since the UN­HCR be­gan col­lect­ing data on the topic in 1951.

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