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Rohingya find a Home in Chicago

 

Coaches Mike Glasser and Jack Hafferkamp with two Rohingya soccer players who they coached, Summer 2017

Through the efforts of RefugeeOne and other resettlement organizations, Chicago has quietly become one of the largest resettlement communities for refugees from Rohingya in the United States. There are currently 350 families living in the city and suburbs with 1,500 individuals. Not surprisingly, Rogers Park has become an important center of Rohingya life in the city. The Rohingya Cultural Center is located at 2740 W. Devon Avenue in West Ridge. The Cultural Center is a community-based social service agency that serves the needs of the Rohingya community. West Ridge is also the location of the city’s first and only Burmese restaurant at 2305 W. Devon. This restaurant was recently opened by a Rohingya family that has settled in Chicago. (See related restaurant review.)

While we can all be proud that Chicago and Rogers Park are helping this most recent wave of refugees, we could also be doing much more, both locally and nationally. The Rohingya have suffered terrible persecution and violence at the hands of the Burmese government. According to the RefugeeOne Spring 2018 Newsletter, there have been 650,000 displaced Rohingya since the Burmese began forcing them from their homes in August 2017. This displacement has been accompanied by documented human rights violations, including forced labor, rape, burning of villages and the suppression of the Rohingya’s Muslim religion. The Burmese do not recognize the Rohingya as Burmese citizens, despite the fact that they have lived in the country for centuries. Some observers have said the Burmese government’s attacks on the Rohingya is nothing less than genocide.

In the face of all this displacement and misery, the Trump administration has responded with a virtual cessation of legal refugee resettlement. The 1,500 refugees in Chicago represent a tiny fraction of the 650,000 displaced persons who need help. Much more could and should be done. As always, Rogers Park stands ready to help if the political will is there.

 

 

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