THERE is a growing worldwide concern for refugees as the numbers are gargantuan compared to previous years. There were three occasions I had encountered refugees. One was when we visited Raquel in the Morong, Bataan in the 1980s where Cambodian, Lao and other nationalities escaped the political oppression in their countries and settled in the refugee camps. The second was in the 1990S in Puerto Princesa when two joined the YWAM School of Frontier Missions that we conducted. Grace and I would go out to the camp for Vietnamese Pho and French Bread while visiting their families. At that time, they were already phasing out and relocating the refugees. The third encounter was working among the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.
A handful of the Vietnamese refugees in Puerto Princesa remained after the bulk resettled in the United States back in 2005-2006. Those who remained continue to maintain the settlement area started by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in the 1997. They see it as a venue to share Vietnamese culture, specially cuisine and craft. Couples Tran and Le Van Cong, of the original refugees, decided to stay and help maintain the Vietnamese Village. They are appreciative of the country and have become an interpreter for Vietnamese fisher folks who were caught pouching Philippine seas. It is their commitment to share Vietnamese culture while embracing Philippine laws, language and culture.
Mid and late 1990s, I was privileged to be a consultant of development organization working among Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. From 2010 to the present a bulk of the more than 100,000 refugees were already settled in the United States, Canada and elsewhere. God favored me to be able to meet some of them and see the change in them .From a homeless, stateless and economically dependent refugee to a Bhutanese US citizen. Most of those I met were fellow Christians who believed they were privileged and that God favored them to become US citizens. They now rent their own apartments, drive a car to work, send their children to school and have a citizenship. Some continue to travel back to Nepal during their vacation time. They value the opportunity to have their Bhutanese service alongside existing churches in the US.
Now, why is the present situation an alarming one? Is it because of the magnitude of refugees or is it because of religious affiliations? Or it is because of the result of the refugee resettlement - specially rising crime and destabilizing peace and order situations. The Paris and Orlando, Florida incidents are still fresh in the minds of people. That is why, there is a push and pull among different quarters on the present day refugee situations. President Trump made an executive order, and some factions are resisting.
The Pew Research Center, an Independent opinion research group studying attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues, said that just under 85,000 refugees were resettled in the US by September 30, 2016. Of this, Muslim refugees (38,901) were admitted in 2016 much more than in any other year since the government started to release religious affiliations in 2002. By comparison, admission of Christians dipped to 37,521 in 2016.
“During the past 15 years, the US has admitted 399,677 Christian refugees and 279,339 Muslim refugees, meaning that 46 percent of all refugees who have entered the US during this time have been Christian while 32 percent have been Muslim,” Pew stated based on a Christianity Today publication. Last September 2016 alone World Relief nearly doubled the number of refugees it resettles in the United States in a typical month. In the past year the evangelical agency handled a the largest number since 1999 with 9,759 refugees caseload.
As to my experience, the refugees have maintained their culture but at the same time assimilated into the host culture. It is rather alarming that these new breed of refugees have caused havoc and complete disregard to the laws and lifestyles of host countries.
Those who seek refuge are doing so because they are escaping from atrocities in their own countries and I am of the thought that they should not impose their cultural practices, political structures and religious practices to anybody except their own. Unfortunately, the world is now beset with a massive movement from Syria and Iraq. In the case of Paris, I believe it has been premeditated terrorism and government has the right to make policies to curb the influx of refugees. Germany with a welcoming arm for a million refugees is rethinking policies because of the violence experienced with the refugee presence. Talking with Halvor and Doris from Norway, they think their government should rethink their open arm policies.