FORGOTTEN REFUGEES  

The world took little notice when, in the early 1990s, the peaceful Kingdom of Bhutan expelled some 100,000 ethnic Nepalis known as Lhotsampas, or “people from the south.” The Lhotsampas languished in refugee camps in Nepal until 2008 when the UN set the wheels in motion for one of the most ambitious refugee resettlement programs ever undertaken.

The U.S. has agreed to accept the largest number—about 75,000—and many of the new arrivals have ended up in the Pittsburgh area. Pulitzer Center grantees Julia Rendleman and Moriah Balingit, both staffers on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, tell the remarkable story of a journey that stretches from the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania to the foothills of the Himalayas.

Julia, a photojournalist and former Pulitzer Center student fellow, captures revealing moments in the lives of these refugees while Moriah tells the stories of those left behind in the squalid camps and of the others trying to find their way in America

IN THE WORLD OF ISIS

One story the world cannot ignore is the slow and murderous fracturing of Iraq and Syria. In separate projects, Pulitzer Center grantees Sebastian Meyer and James Harkin have been documenting the fallout from the sudden rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Sebastian, in this video report for Voice of America, reports from a church in Iraqi Kurdistan that has become a makeshift refugee camp for Christians fleeing from the onslaught of ISIS. “I don’t think about my future anymore,” a 14-year-old girl tells Sebastian. “I just take everything one day at a time. We want to leave and go abroad because we don’t believe we’ll ever go back home. How much longer do we have stay in this place? How much longer till it’s over?”

Meanwhile, James, reporting from northern Syria for Newsweek, continues to document the plight of more than 130 Kurdish schoolboys who were kidnapped by Islamic State militants last May with the apparent intent of recruiting them into their ranks.

“Long before western politicians identified the Islamic State as Public Enemy No. 1, the Kurds of Northern Syria were fighting a rearguard action against them, almost entirely alone,” writes James. Kobani, the city where the kidnapped boys are from, “has slowly become the epicenter and the crucible of a fight to the death. For over six months, it’s been under a crushing, increasingly desperate siege on three sides by fighters from the Islamic State – and by the Turkish authorities on the fourth.” 

And finally, Pulitzer Center student fellow Selin Thomas, a recent Boston University graduate, is on the Syrian border in Turkey where she filed this Untold Stories dispatch on the plight of refugee children.   

BACKSLIDING ON DEMOCRACY

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s populist prime minister, is no fan of liberal democracy. “I don’t think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations,” he told a gathering of students last July. He went on to cite Russia, Turkey and China as the rising “stars” of the new world order, noting that none of these “is liberal and some of which aren’t even democracies.”

Pulitzer Center grantee Yigal Schleifer, in an in-depth feature for Moment, looks at Hungary’s retreat from democracy and its implications for the rest of Europe: “This shift is a setback not only for Hungary, but for the wider post-Cold War project of spreading the European Union’s democratic principles of good governance, rule of law, and human and civil rights to countries that had precious little experience with those ideals during the Soviet years.”

Yigal’s reporting from Hungary is part of larger project that will also look at Ukraine and Turkey, two other countries that also tell an important story about the hard road to democratization

Following the historic 1999 popular referendum, East Timor emerged as the first independent sovereign nation of the 21st Century. The years since these momentous events have seen an efflorescence of social research across the country drawn by shared interests in the aftermath of the resistance struggle, the processes of social recovery and the historic opportunity to pursue field-based ethnography following the hiatus of research during 24 years of Indonesian rule (1975-99).

This volume brings together a collection of papers from a diverse field of international scholars exploring the multiple ways that East Timorese communities are making and remaking their connections to land and places of ancestral significance. The work is explicitly comparative and highlights the different ways Timorese language communities negotiate access and transactions in land, disputes and inheritance especially in areas subject to historical displacement and resettlement. Consideration is extended to the role of ritual performance and social alliance for inscribing connection and entitlement. Emerging through analysis is an appreciation of how relations to land, articulated in origin discourses, are implicated in the construction of national culture and differential contributions to the struggle for independence. The volume is informed by a range of Austronesian cultural themes and highlights the continuing vitality of customary governance and landed attachment in Timor-Leste.

Links: ANU Press | OAPEN Library

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Home Tour: Vietnamese Family Home Vietnam based practice Landmak Architecture have renovated an apartment located on the 11th floor of an old condominium in Hanoi, Vietnam. The apartment is designed and modified for a young couple, one child and grandparents. Located in a low income resettlement housing group, the old apartment had 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and living room with very little ventilation.

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Photography by Le Anh Duc

Smile Devan nuzzles his daughter Rina Shah, 7, moments before she departs for the United States. She is a Bhutanese refugee but Smile is a Nepalese citizen. It will likely be years before they are able to see each other again.

Image and text by Julia Rendleman, via Instagram. Nepal, 2014. 

Pulitzer Center grantees Julia Rendleman and Moriah Balingit report from Nepal on Bhutan’s displaced persons preparing to resettle in the United States.

(via No Swearing Gambling Drinking | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive)

January 1937. “Children of citrus workers in hallway of apartment house. Winter Haven, Fla.” Swearing, Gambling and Drinking, with their little brother Allowed. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, Resettlement Administration. View full size.

Graduation and Allocation

By 1968, the “Proletariat Cultural Revolution” sparked by China’s supreme leader Mao Zedong was in its third year.

Since June 1966, I had, along with the rest of the nation’s middle schoolers, answered Chairman Mao’s call to “stop school to conduct revolution.” To do so, the students and faculty feverishly founded various revolutionary groups. Separate factions of Red Guards and “Revolution Battle Squads” of all stripes rose to oppose the school’s “leaders who walk the road of capitalism”, the capitalist pedagogy of the school, and sundry outdated ideas. We did all we could to help Chairman Mao keep our countryside red.

From left to right, myself, my younger brother, and my older brother, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. We are all wearing the Chairman Mao badges that were popular at the time.

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Modoc Tribe Games

The Modoc were a branch of the Klamath people of Oregon, and the two groups often warred with each other. The Modoc originally inhabited areas of southern Oregon and northern California, but after the Modoc War of 1872-1873 many of them were resettled in Oklahoma. Today there is a small Modoc reservation in Oklahoma, with a larger group still in Oregon.


Love is easy

HEY guys! This was requested, cuddly Luke imagine :3
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Request! Remember I’m always there to talk!


“Hey babe,” he rasps out, arms resettling around your waist, continuing to nuzzle into his face in your necks.
“Hey Luke,” he smiles at your voice, all cute and deeper than usual. He almost groans because he knows that when he’s gone he’ll yearn for these moments. But he’s pushed that thought out of his head, to ill his thought with peace. It was quiet, no words needing to be spoken when the warmth of each other’s arms are enveloping each other. He feels your arms sprawled across his chest, he hears the hum of your breath and sees the fondness in your smile. It’s the distance between dusk and dawn and his entranced completely with the angel he’s graced to hold with the capsule of his own arms. His glowing aquamarine blue eyes scroll up and down her exhausted form.
“Luke, please sleep you have recording in a few hours. I wanna sleep with you while I still have the chance,” you nuzzle into his chest, and he instinctively kisses the top off your hairline.
“Shh, baby, I’ll sleep.” But it’s a lie, because he’s so warm, and he can feel his heart swoon at your touch, feel himself fall so deep when you bring yourself closer into him. you were his one and only, and he’ll be yours. You were so remarkably different than any other girl that he’d ever know. So vibrant, so crazy in that strange way that made him wish he was crazy too. You made him want to run , want to fall, and you made it look so easy. You were his dream girl, his rebellious princess who he’d kill to be a knight in shining armour for. His grip on you tightens as a bitter thought poisons his admiration, poisons the beauty and unadulterated moy and joy running through his veins. And he’s got moxy, pushing away those fans who try and jump him, pushing away those rumors just so he can wake up to heaven in his arms and this feeling that is coursing through his veins. But the thought that kills that is the loss. Every moment with you is a gamble. He lacked trust, which you hated. You hated how when he’d come home crying, the only remedy that could possibly cure him was your arms wrapped around him, fingers running through his hair while he let out please please I need you’s or I need you, Please don’t leave. It ached you physically to see Luke fall apart, a mess under your fingers. And it’s all because of one thing; fear. He fears you will run away from his love, but he clings to you in moments like this. Honestly he needs you a bit more than one would think. He’d lose his mind of you weren’t there to greet him with a kiss each day and to dance with him to stupid songs. He leans over and kisses your cheek, the soft, light touch sending a strong spark down his spine. He had a half-smile spread across his lips. He focuses on nothing but the soft, steady heartbeat of the girl he adores. Once he’s sure your fast asleep, he plays with your fingers, wondering how it would look with a diamond ring on your finger. The time is robbing him of alertness, and he’s growing drunk with drowsiness. And as he falls asleep, he joins your lips against your mouth, and smiled against them.
If this is love, then love is easy.

“So how come we became the worst ever resettlement processing country?”

Once a private sponsorship — usually involving a church group — is approved, it can take two to five years to get a refugee to Canada, depending on the country where he or she is living.

Canada’s average processing time for privately sponsored refugee applications in Lebanon is two years. In Pakistan it is 5.4 years, in Egypt, 3.5 years and in South Africa, 4.7 years.

In the three and a half years war has raged in Syria, displacing 10 million people, Canada has struggled to resettle fewer than 200 Syrian refugees overseas and is still processing asylum applications from another 1,300 who made their way to Canada on their own.

In the same period, Germany resettled 6,000, welcomed another 11,800 Syrian asylum seekers and promised to offer protection — in the form of renewable, two-year residence visas — to another 20,000 of Syria’s most vulnerable victims trapped in the Middle East.

Sweden, a country with only about a quarter of Canada’s population, has given permanent resident status to more than 30,000 Syrians.

“Until 2011 we had a lot of Immigration Canada offices processing our cases and we had an excellent relationship with the people working there. They loved the program, they helped us and they would call us if there was anything they needed. But suddenly Ottawa decided, ‘No, this is not good. Let’s not communicate with the sponsors.’

“We have thousands of cases and we have had several where, because of the delays in Immigration Canada’s processing, refugees that were hoping to come to Canada have been selected by Australia or the United Kingdom or the United States, and they are processed and have already left before the Canadian approval comes through.”
In other instances, files have sat in Winnipeg for months before being suddenly returned with a note complaining of an inconsistency in the spelling of a foreign name, a missing address or email or a garbled telephone number, Mark says.

“They find a reason to refuse to process and after one year or one and a half years you are still at Step One. It is really upsetting for the relatives, for the churches, for the refugees and for the visa offices.”

—  Peter Goodspeed Via ‘Delay, delay, delay’
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