Population Movements

Burmese Refugee Health Profile

Out of Myanmar to Thailand and Malaysia…

Refugees from Myanmar are housed in camps in Thailand or urban settlements in Malaysia. Refugee camps in Thailand are located along Thailand’s border with Myanmar, while refugees in Malaysia reside mostly in Kuala Lumpur (Figure 2). The majority of refugees from Myanmar are from the various minority ethnic groups within the country, such as the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, and Wa.

Figure 2. Location and size of Burmese refugee camps in Thailand (December, 2013)

A map of Thailand showing the location of Burmese refugee camps

Source: Asia Team, DGMQ, CDC.

To the United States…

Refugees from Myanmar began resettling into the United States in large numbers around 2008. From 2008-2014, approximately 109,000 Burmese refugees arrived in the United States from camps and urban settings in Thailand and Malaysia (Figure 3). Burmese refugees were mostly resettled from refugee camps in Thailand in the past, but are now increasingly being resettled from urban settings in Malaysia.  Burmese refugees have also been resettled from countries other than Malaysia and Thailand.

Figure 3: Burmese refugee arrivals to the United States from Malaysia and Thailand, 2008-2014 (N=109,033)

Burmese refugee arrivals to United States from Malaysia and Thailand chart

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System (WRAPS)

From 2008-2014, more than 117,000 Burmese refugees were resettled in the United States. The majority of Burmese refugees were resettled from Thailand and Malaysia, with smaller numbers from other countries of asylum.  Burmese refugees have been resettled to multiple different states in the United States, with the majority resettled to 10 specific states (Figure 4).

Figure 4: States of primary resettlement for all Burmese refugees, 2008-2014 (N=117,433)

: shows a map of the USA and the numbers of Burmese refugees in each state

Top 10 States * Number Percent (%)
Texas 16,689 14.2
New York 10,300 8.7
Indiana 8,216 7.0
North Carolina 6,386 5.4
Georgia 5,800 4.9
Minnesota 5,354 4.6
Illinois 4,632 3.9
Washington 4,069 3.5
Arizona 3,777 3.2
Michigan 3,743 3.2

* The remaining 40,067 refugees resettled to 39 other states. Source: WRAPS

Refugees from Burma who are resettled into the United States are predominantly between the ages of 15-44 years (Figure 5)

Figure 5: Age distribution for Burmese refugees resettled to the United States, 2008-2014 (N=117,433)

Age distribution for Burmese refugees resettled to the United States chart

Source: Electronic Disease Notification System (EDN)

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