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After Years of Persecution Hundreds of Karen and Karenni Refugees are Resettling in America

Contact: Ben Duff, 540-636-8907


FRONT ROYAL, Va., July 25 /Standard Newswire/ -- Bertha Say Dah and Mercy Htoo, two teenage girls from war-ravaged Burma, have a lot to be thankful for. From the midst of a harsh, impoverished life in a refugee camp, both were selected to attend a vocational school run by Christian Freedom International in Mae Sot, Thailand, where they learned English, computer skills, science and the Bible. They have also benefited from CFI's child sponsorship program that provided for their day-to-day necessities as well as their educational needs.


Now, both girls are part of the mass resettlement effort that is bringing hundreds of Burma's refugees to America. "I thank the CFI organization because they helped us. Also I thank my sponsor because she helped me...I will go to America with my family. If I study I will try my best," says Bertha Say, 17, who will reside in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with her mother and two sisters. Mercy, 15, who hopes to be a missionary teacher, will settle in Fort Wayne, Indiana on July 27th.


The long-awaited resettlement is finally coming to pass after thousands of ethnic Karen and Karenni natives have already been displaced, raped, or brutally slaughtered by Burma's military over the past several decades – a humanitarian crisis that has left the country operating as a nationwide concentration camp. In an effort to escape the relentless persecution, many have gone into hiding in the mountains or jungles without adequate food, shelter or medicine. Many more displaced men, women and children – over 100,000 – are crowding refugee camps along the Burma-Thai border, some who have languished there for over 25 years.


As the crisis worsens with no end in sight, the State Department finally approved the applications of thousands of refugees who have sought asylum in the United States. The decision came after months of political indecision and a final waiver of restrictions under the Immigration and Nationality Act that previously blocked a resettlement.


As Burma's refugees face the challenges of establishing new lives throughout the United States, the transition is requiring the assistance of many social service agencies, organizations, churches, and families. "Many of the refugees will be unaccompanied minors," says Christian Freedom International President Jim Jacobson, whose organization has provided humanitarian aid and support to the Karen since 1996. "These are the most vulnerable of the refugee population; they will need help from caring foster families as they arrive in the U.S."


For photographs and more information about how to help with Burma's refugee resettlement, contact CFI's office at 1-800-323-2273 or visit