Burmese Refugees in the United States: Resettlement Barriers, Access to Healthcare, and Adjusting to Life in Atlanta, Georgia Open Access

Lerner, Hilary Aviela (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/nv935341f?locale=en
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Abstract

The human rights situation in Burma is considered one of the worst in the world, characterized by counter-insurgency operations directly targeting civilians, forced labor, restrictions on farming, and land confiscation. Ethnic minorities have been subject to constant conflict with the Burmese government since independence from Britain in 1948. As a result of the turmoil in Burma, hundreds of thousands of Burmese people have been displaced and forced to flee to Thailand for sanctuary in refugee camps. There are currently over 119,000 --refugees from Burma living in Thai border camps and tens of thousands of displaced persons living in Thailand. Refugees face many challenges to living in refugee camps; one of the most serious is getting access to healthcare. Burmese refugees endure a number of health problems while in refugee settlements, including infectious diseases, reproductive health, mental health, and substance abuse. In the refugee camps Burmese refugees begin applying for resettlement in a third country. The process of resettling to the United States is complex and has many steps refugees must go through. This paper looks at the challenges Burmese refugees in Atlanta, Georgia encounter upon resettlement. Through interviews with Burmese refugees and caseworkers at resettlement organizations it explores challenges to receiving healthcare, including the cost of services, interpretation difficulties, cultural differences, and more. The interviews reveal additional challenges Burmese refugees face in daily life, including transportation, the language barrier, lack of resources for refugees, and others. The Burmese refugees further demonstrate that while they face substantial obstacles during resettlement in Atlanta, they have a strong community to rely on which allows them to maintain their cultural practices in America.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………......................................…1 Global Refugee Concerns Burma

Resettling in the United States

Methods Paper Organization CHAPTER 2: REFUGEE HEALTH…………………………………………......................................………….……13

Common Health Problems of Refugees

Three Public Health Concerns in Refugee Populations

CHAPTER 3: BURMA……………………………………………………………….......................................…..……..19

Background of Burma

History of Burma

Displacement: Why People Flee Burma

Thai/Burmese Border Politics

CHAPTER 4: THE HEALTH OF BURMESE REFUGEES IN THAILAND………….............................…..41

Treatment of Burmese Refugees and Displaced Persons in Thailand

Health Concerns for Burmese Refugees in Thailand

CHAPTER 5: REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES……..…...…............................…53

History of Refugee Organizations and the Resettlement Process in the United States

Achieving Refugee Status in the United States

Traveling to the United States

Resettling in the United States

Resettlement Services in Georgia

CHAPTER 6: BARRIERS TO HEALTHCARE FOR REFUGEES……………...............................…………..66 CHAPTER 7: BARRIERS FOR BURMESE REFUGEES IN ATLANTA, GEORGIA..........................…..73

Barriers to Healthcare According to Refugees

Barriers to Healthcare According to Caseworkers

Resettlement Barriers CHAPTER 8: A CASE STUDY OF BURMESE REFUGEES IN ATLANTA, GA……..........................…102

Characteristics of Burmese Refugees

Foundations of these Characteristics

Rejection of Assimilation to America

CHAPTER 9: CONCLUSION……………………………………………………….......................................……….111

Policy Recommendations

REFERENCES….……………………………………………………………...........................................…….………..117

APPENDIX…………………………………………………….............................................……………….…………….125

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