HEADLINES: Refugees

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A Vietnamese refugee who survived a 1977 pirate attack that separated him from his wife and baby has been reunited with his son in New York after nearly 34 years. Hao Truong was tossed into the South China Sea after pirates attacked a boat taking refugee families to Thailand in December 1977. He said he managed to stay afloat for 16 hours before being rescued by a fishing boat. In a Thai refugee camp, Truong learned that his wife had died – her body washed up on shore along with another female victim. But he said he believed their seven month-old baby, Kham, had survived and had been raised by someone else. Truong resettled in the United States in 1978, sponsored by an uncle living in Louisiana. On a trip to Thailand in June after hearing Kham might be alive, a social worker helped him locate his son, now a 34-year-old father of two named Samart Khumkhaw who lives in Surat Thani province. [Associated Press]

Children at the Dolo Ado refugee camps in southern Ethiopia are suffering from acute malnutrition despite plentiful supplies, say relief officials. The camp is host to around 137,000 refugees, most of whom have fled Somalia because of the famine and conflict between al-Shabaab, the Islamist militants, and the transitional Somali government. Refugees have also come from Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya. Besides high levels of malnutrition, the transit center is heavily overcrowded, having to take care of 8,000 people who are awaiting the opening of a fifth camp. This camp was supposed to have opened by the beginning of November. Relief officials attribute the delay to the need to put in proper sanitation facilities, but hope the camp will be up and running any day now. [The Guardian]

Pee Lu, a refugee from war-torn Myanmar, is one of about 550 members of the Karen ethnic group living in Utah — and he is one of even fewer able to find work. “Sometimes it’s very hard,” said Lu, who through a neighbor found a job at a Salt Lake warehouse when he first came to Utah more than four years ago. Shars Pu, a refugee who came to Utah only three months ago, has so far searched in vain for employment. “I don’t speak the language,” he said through an interpreter. “I just want to get a job that I don’t need to speak.” On Saturday, the Salt Lake City Office of Diversity and Human Rights hosted a workshop for about a dozen Karen refugees in hopes of easing their hunt for jobs and helping them protect themselves against workplace abuses once they’ve found employment. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

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