Human geography writing assignment: persecuted peripheries: refugees | human geography | University of South Florida


 The people from Burma provide a heartbreaking opportunity to explore the complexity of not only population dynamics, but also the interconnectedness of all the themes in human geography. In this assignment, we are going to look to the plight of refugees to understand the following concepts: push/pull factors of migration, stateless nation, and asylum/refugee resettlement. Before you jump into this assignment, know that Burma is an incredibly complex place and these topics can be very challenging to read, but it is important to understand the context so we can understand the current dialogue on refugees in our own country. You will be responsible for filling in the table and answering the questions.  


This assignment is divided into three sections, so you can follow the process from country of origin through to resettlement in the final destination.

 Part 1 will help you understand the factors that are pushing people from the country of Burma and causing them to be apply for refugee status. Part 2 will help you understand that the majority of the world’s refugees are not living where you may think, while Part 3 will look at the resettlement process and outcomes of resettlement in the United States.

Part 1 Details about Burma (Questions 1-2)

First, we need to gather some information about the people of Burma, and conveniently enough, I have set up a table and gathered some resources for you to review. Each of the column headers represents an ethnic group in Burma.Read through/watch these sources and use this information to fill in the table. 1. 2. 3.,8599,1874981,00.html 

4. 5. 6. 7. 

Part 2 

Details about the Country of Asylum (Questions 3-4) When people flee their country of origin and cross a national boundary, they must declare their intentions to seek asylum. This means they are seeking protection against their government and it would allow them to legally remain in a country until their application is processed. They are not the same as refugees. According to the UN, the ideal situation would be for the conflict in the country of origin to disappear which would allow the people to return home. The second best option would be for the asylum seeker or refugee to remain in the country where they first applied for asylum with the intention to remain close to their cultural roots. Head to these sources to explore some of the surprising statistics about refugees:  

 Part 3 

Resettlement in the US (Questions 5-7)The least favorable option for anyone would be to resettled in a third-party country far from their country of origin. Not only do the refugees get moved far from their home, but the process of resettlement is incredibly complicated and difficult. For much of our recent history, the United States has been the largest recipient for refugee resettlement, so it is time to see what happens to refugees when they arrive here. Visit these links to get more information about refugee resettlement in the US:  



1.   The UN suggests that people who have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their country of origin should be considered as refugees. Using information from the chart, articles, and the internet, briefly describe some of the actions in Burma that may count as “well-founded fear of persecution”. Which ethnic groups (do not include the Rohingya, because they are in the next question) experience the most persecution in Burma, and why (hint: use the table)? Where do they flee when they leave Burma? 

 2.   Use the articles, internet, and lecture materials to define ‘stateless nation’. Do you think the Rohingya are a stateless nation? Explain. 

3.   Look at the inforgraphics on the UN website. Name the 5 countries hosting the most refugees in 2019. What percent of displaced people are hosted by countries in the developing world? Is this a surprising list and percentage? Explain

 4.   Look at the inforgraphics on the UN website. What is the number of refugees in 2019? What number of refugees returned home, or were resettled in 2019? It is easy to look at the big difference between these two numbers and think that not much is being done to help refugees. Using your list from Question 3, what is happening in the world that may explain why refugees are not returning home?   

5.   Describe the resettlement process in the US. How soon after arriving does federal financial assistance end? Is this surprising? Explain. 

6.   Which regions in the United States have resettled the largest numbers of refugees? Fewest? Explain why these patterns may exist? 

7.   The president is the person who decides the upper limit of refugees who are allowed to enter the US each year. 2019 saw the lowest cap since the creation of refugee legislation in the 1980s. yet many state and local governments want to increase refugee resettlement in their areas. Looking at sources from Buffalo, describe contributions of refugees to the local economy. Is this surprising? Explain.

 8.   Finally, organizations such as the West Side Bazaar have helped Buffalo develop an inclusive community that is very receptive to hosting refugees. Think about where you are from and briefly tell me about your community’s receptivity to different cultures. 

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