Political conflict began in Burma several decades ago, causing much civilian unrest and forced migration, leaving both internally displaced people and refugees in its wake. Today, estimates put the number of refugees residing in nine camps in Thailand at 137,242 people, not counting those who have fled to India, Bangladesh, or Malaysia. Many have been in these camps for over two decades. The political situation in Burma is such that an imminent homecoming is unlikely for any of these refugees; in fact the number of Burmese leaving their homes as a result of forced migration continues to grow each year. However, the Thai Government is reluctant to allow refugees any sense of permanency within its borders. Therefore, third country resettlement has become their only “durable” solution.
The United States is able to resettle more refugees than any other nation, with a per annum admissions ceiling set at 80,000 refugees. In recent years, the U.S. resettlement program has welcomed the Burmese, resettling 18,202 refugees in Fiscal Year 2009 alone. Given the conditions under which these refugees have migrated, the significant amount of time they have lived within the confines of a camp, and the marked differences between their own culture, camp culture, and U.S. culture, resettlement and integration will be no easy task. Moreover, case studies have shown time and again that refugees struggle given the current level of support provided under the U.S. refugee resettlement program. This thesis will examine the resettlement process as it begins in camps and urban areas and continues through to third country resettlement in the U.S. While highlighting the Burmese refugee population, this thesis will also explore the issues faced by all refugees resettled in the U.S., as they must each pass through a standardized process and encounter similar obstacles regardless of their country of origin. In order to better address the needs of both arriving refugees and receiving communities, this thesis will examine a model of cultural integration which begins with the exchange of personal narratives.
Key words: refugee resettlement, United States Refugee Program (USRP), Burmese refugees, cultural integration, refugee narratives
|School:||The American University of Paris (France)|
|Source:||MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Asian American Studies, Public policy, Ethnic studies|
|Keywords:||Burmese, Cultural integration, Refugee, Resettlement, United States|
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