Refugee Backgrounders

The Cultural Orientation Resource Center has produced numerous publications providing key information about various refugee populations. These Refugee Backgrounders and Culture Profiles include a population’s history, culture, religion, language, education, and resettlement needs, and brief demographic information.

See below for a list of the publications available, with the most recent publications appearing first. Refer to this page for a full list of the publications without descriptions or images.

To search for a publication on a particular refugee population, you may like to use the Resource Library tab, which allows you to refine your search by several categories.

CAL_Syrian Backgrounder Cover

Refugees from Syria, November 2014

Information about refugees from Syria, addressing Syria’s modern history, government, economy, and other systems, the different Syrian populations, common beliefs and customs, conditions in first-asylum countries, and implications for resettlement. This document does not currently include demographic information about the Syrian refugees in the U.S. Refugee Admissions pipeline; that information will follow as more Syrian refugees undergo processing. (PDF, 1.3 MB)



Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, March 2013 (Data updated January 2014)

Information about the refugee crisis, life in the DRC and countries of asylum, background characteristics of the refugees, and their resettlement experiences in the U.S., strengths they bring and the challenges they may face. (PDF, 3.85 MB)


Darfuri Bg

Darfuri Refugees, June 2011

Information about refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan, particularly those being resettled from Chad, as well as those in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. (PDF, 748 KB)


Eritreans Bg
Eritrean Refugees in Shimelba Refugee Camp, December 2010

Information about the Tigrinya and Kunama refugees from the Shimelba Refugee Camp, looking at their recent history in Eritrea and Ethiopia, their cultural attributes, and their socio-economic characteristics. (PDF, 552 KB)


Iraqi Bg
Refugees From Iraq, December 2008

In-depth information about refugee groups from Iraq, including the various ethnic and religious communities, history, conditions in countries of asylum, characteristics of the refugee population, religion, language, education, and resettlement considerations. (PDF, 1.22 MB)


Bhutanese Bg

Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal, October 2007

Discussion of the causes of the refugee situation, the need for third-country resettlement, and the characteristics of the refugee population. (PDF, 80 KB). Download a supplement with additional information about considerations for the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees (PDF, 20 KB).


Burmese CP
Refugees from Burma, June 2007

Information about the diverse histories, cultures, refugee backgrounds, and resettlement experiences of refugees from Burma, with a focus on Burmans, Karen, Karenni, and Chin. (PDF, 2,8 MB)


Kunama Bg
The Kunama, April 2007

A look at the experience of the Kunama in Eritrea, their lives in the Shimelba Refugee Camp, and their cultural practices and preferences. (PDF, 150 KB)



Burundians Bg
The 1972 Burundians, March 2007

A general discussion of the Burundian refugees being resettled from the Tanzanian refugee camps in which they have lived since 1972, including reasons for their flight, the need for resettlement, their cultural customs and background characteristics, and their likely resettlement needs. (PDF, 150 KB)


Banyamulenge Tutsi Bg
The Banyamulenge Tutsi, February 2007

Basic information about the Banyamulenge Tutsi in general and the Gatumba massacre survivors in particular. (PDF, 150 KB)


Meskhetian Turks CP
The Meskhetian Turks, September 2006

General information about Meskhetian Turks and their history, including Meskhetian Turk communities around the world, culture, language and education, and resettlement in the United States, as well as recommended reading. (PDF 1.33 MB)


Liberians CP
Liberian Refugees, April 2005

General information about the Liberian people and their history, including life in Liberia, the situation of Liberian refugees in West Africa, language, and resettlement in the United States, as well as recommended reading. (PDF, 359 KB)


Hmong CP
The Hmong, June 2004

General information about the Hmong people, their history, their lives in Laos and Thailand, literacy and education issues, resettlement matters, and information about Hmong languages, including a list of common words, phrases, and sayings. (PDF, 544 KB)


Muslim Refugees CP
Muslim Refugees, September 2003 

A basic introduction to the worldview of Muslim peoples as manifested in their religion and culture, including topics such as the fundamental tenets of Islam; necessary conditions for successful resettlement; special considerations when working with Muslim men, women, children, and elderly; and a list of resources for both refugees and service providers. (PDF, 491 KB)


Somali Bantu CP
The Somali Bantu, February 2003

A basic introduction to the people, history, and cultures of the Somali Bantu resettled from refugee camps in Somalia.
(PDF, 289 KB)


Afghans CP
The Afghans, 2002

An introduction to the people, history and cultures of Afghanistan. (PDF, 705 KB)


Montagnards CP
The Montagnards, 2002

This booklet is a basic introduction to the history, cultures, and resettlement experiences of the Montagnard people of Vietnam. (PDF, 253 KB)


Cubans CP
Cubans, 1996

An introduction to the people, history, and culture of Cuba. (PDF, 7.11 MB)


Iraqi Kurds CP
Iraqi Kurds, 1996

An introduction to the people, history, and culture of the Iraqi Kurds. (PDF, 11.8 MB)


Bosnians CP
The Bosnians, December 1995

An introduction to the people, history, and culture of Bosnia, with a particular focus on Bosnian Muslims. (PDF, 6.1 MB)


Haitians CP
Haitians, 1994

A basic introduction to the people, history, and culture of Haiti. (PDF, 9.7 MB)


Somalis CP
The Somalis, October 1993

A basic introduction to the people, history, and culture of Somalia. (PDF, 9.1 MB)