Category Archives: General Information

Q&A with a Case Manager

Here at MCC Refugee Services we work with a wonderful team of dedicated staff and volunteers. To give you the inside scoop on what it’s like to work in our office we sat down with one of our Resettlement Case Managers, Abdirizak. For the past six years, Abdirizak has drawn upon his personal experience as a Somali refugee to welcome new refugees to Minnesota. What does a Resettlement Case Manager do? Oh I do a lot! [Laughs] I do intake when they come to United States, meet at the airport sometimes, greet them, and schedule appointment to see them in the office. What happens during intake? I ask them how their health situation is. That’s the number one [priority]. They’ve been living in the refugee camp a long time and maybe they don’t have access to medical treatment. Sometimes they have different weather, different culture, different food and they get … Continue reading

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St. Paul: A New Home for the Karen

St. Paul, Minnesota is home to the largest concentration of Karen people in the country, but who are the Karen? (The name is pronounced “kah-REN”.) The Karen are an ethnic minority from Burma, though the military government changed the name to Myanmar. Because most refugees in MN still refer to the country as Burma, we do too. The Karen community in Minnesota is the largest outside of Southeast Asia. Since 2004 approximately 2,000 Karen people have resettled here. They’ve come to escape persecution and torture resulting from a half-century long civil war with the Burmese military government. After fleeing through the mountainous jungles of Burma past the border into Thailand, the Karen found relief in refugee camps. Many families lived there for a decade or two before receiving the opportunity to resettle in another country. Approximately 1 million refugees are still living in Thai refugee camps. The Karen community in … Continue reading

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Invited by the President

globe photo

We’re often asked how particular refugee groups end up in Minnesota. Why is Minnesota home to more Somalis than anywhere else in the country? Why are there so many Karen people on the east side of St. Paul? Who chooses which refugee groups are granted entry into the United States? These are complicated questions to answer, but here is a little information to get you started. The answers to the first questions are pretty much the same: people want to live near people like them. National and local resettlement agencies try to take this into account when placing newly arrived refugees, and communities grow as families gravitate to the same areas to be near cultural centers, friends and family, religious life, ethnic grocery stores, and public transportation. Minnesota’s existing refugee communities and welcoming culture make it an attractive place to refugees resettled in other states as well.  In addition, refugee … Continue reading

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