MA IDS Thesis Projects


Refugee Challenges in the United States with a Focus on Somali Communities

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences


International Development and Service

Degree Name

International Development and Service, MA


This thesis reviewed the literature on refugee challenges in America, especially the Somali communities in United States. The main purpose is to understand the experiences and difficulties encountered by these refugees. On average 23,000 people are forced to flee from their countries every day, and a person is displaced every four seconds. As a result, many people flee to the neighboring countries to escape from violence, genocidal circumstances and oppression among myriad of other unimaginable difficulties. In 1991-1992, civil war erupted in Somalia which created more than 1.5 million refugees. Millions of Somalis fled for safety and the luckiest one percent were those that were resettled in United States and other developed states. Voluntary agencies (VOLAGS) are largely responsible for welcoming refugees to United States. After arriving, they were often not accepted by the local communities because of cultural racism, isolation, English barriers and many other problems.

Minnesota became the largest Somali community because of its public assistance programs and its welcoming environment. Local Somali organizations in Minnesota also provided assistance, thus making the integration process easier. Ohio became the second largest Somali destination; however, local communities in Ohio were not as welcoming compared to Minnesota. An article in the blogosphere of Ohio’s City Data Forum and Topix is used to discuss the main challenges Somali refugees encountered in Ohio. Recommendations are offered to the local communities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and national resettlement agencies working with refugees to improve their services. The Somali NGOs in Minnesota is a model to be followed.

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