Burmese refugees living with rats and roaches —-again!

I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this news story from Akron, Ohio.   The International Institute of Akron is being accused of not properly caring for the Burmese Karen refugees in its charge.   Gee, I wonder where I heard that story before?  Oh yeh!  Waterbury, CT, just last week.

While his [Teddy, a Karen refugee] life may be better than the refugee camp, the living conditions are anything but home sweet home for Akron.


Many of the apartments are overcrowded and have serious problems with roaches and rats. Eight people, including a newborn live in a two-room apartment on the fourth floor. During the day, two mattresses are stood upright so the family has room to walk around. At night, the mattresses are laid on the floor so the family members and the baby have somewhere to sleep.


Some of the Karen refugees have been placed in houses adjacent to the apartment building. Fifteen immigrants live in one of the homes.


“I would open up the refrigerator and it would not be working,” Miller [local church volunteer] said. “The ovens, we would find rats in the bottom of the ovens. The cockroaches were just amazing. I would open up a cupboard and there might be 50 of them jumping out at me.”

What does the agency representative say—we are only responsible for them for six months.    This demonstrates AGAIN that one of the major reforms needed in refugee resettlement is to require that each refugee family has a sponsor, a church or other such group to look out for them for as long as it takes to assimilate to America.   These volags apparently just take the money, pat themselves on the back and walk away!

BTW, this is another of the subcontractors of USCRI.

7 thoughts on “Burmese refugees living with rats and roaches —-again!

  1. The Connecticut Program needs to be audited. There are questionable issues surrounding the care of the Karen refugees. IIC receives grant money to resettle them in Bridgeport and Waterbury, but shortly after their arrival and initial resettlement, they are left to fend for themselves, when they still need support.

    There is certainly neglect by the staff to ensure that the Karen refugees are cared for and assimilated. I am not talking about hand-holding, but working with the refugees to help them get medical attention, pay bills, assisting them with mail, etc. They have a minimal education and most do not yet speak or read English. Consequently, they cannot respond adequately to any mail received, make appointments, and explain themselves to others without assistance. This should not be happening; there is a IIC case worker who is fluent in Karen and is fully capable of providing the needed support. It is wrong for IIC to accept these refugees if they fail to care for them.


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