When thinking of refugees fleeing to America, the first areas that come to mind are war torn places like Syria and Afghanistan. But according to new data released by the U.S. State Department, Christians from Myanmar are now considered to be the largest refugee population in the United States.
A study conducted by the State Department from 2007-2016 said that, 159,692 refugees were admitted to the U.S. from Myanmar over a ten year time period. Statistically, that means roughly one in four U.S. bond refugees are from Burma, also known as Myanmar, PRI.org reported earlier this month.
According to Open Doors USA, a 60-year-old organization that works in some of the most oppressive nations in the world like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, Christians in Myanmar face “very high” levels of persecution in the predominately Buddhist country.
Kaw Hser is one of the Myanmar refugees whose prayers were answered, when he was selected by a United Nations based group to come to America, PRI.org reported.
He’s part of the Christian Karen, who are a large population of people that have their own language and culture. According to helpwithoutfrontiers.org, “The Karen are one of the most persecuted minorities. Since 1990 around 2,000 villages have been plundered and burnt to the ground.”
“(Karen) people are randomly tortured and killed, men and youth kidnapped to be forced porters and living mine detectors, women systematically raped.”
The organization also describes the Karen as a hill tribe with three main groups: Pwo Karen (Buddhists), Pwo Karen (Animists) and the Sgaw Karen (Christians). The Sgaw Karen typically leave their homeland and move to refugee camps.
Before moving to the U.S., Hser said he was one of the Burmese Christian refugees living in a refugee camp along the Thai-Myanmar border, a 2,100 km long stretch of land filled with sad stories, land mines, malaria and very little signs of human life, according to reports.
So for many like Hser, a chance to leave is a blessing from God.
Hser said after he arrived in the United States, his first stop was upstate New York. He worked three jobs, including one as a Wal-Mart sales associate.
As a new employee he learned very quickly that the relationship between refugees and natural born American citizens are complicated.
He said to PRI.org, that when a customer came in and needed help, he couldn’t really do much because he was new and did not know where to locate the item. In response to this, he said, “the woman just went off.”
He said, the female customer specifically stated to him, “‘Crawl back under the rock where you came from.’”
“That’s what she told me.”
Hser’s story is just one example that demonstrates the complex feelings associated with refugees coming into America, PRI reported.
If you are interested in helping the Burmese Christians living in refugee camps, consider donating to Christian Aid Mission.
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