From 2003 to 2014, Erie County's four resettlement agencies resettled 9,723 refugees from Iraq, Somalia, Burma, Bhutan, and now Syria. Refugees receive resettlement support for three months time but post-resettlement face barriers to good health and well-being due to limited english proficiency coupled with a scarcity of interpreters and translators, mental health issues related to trauma and torture, lack of transportation, and a derth of culturally-engaged health professionals, pharmacists, and emergency care providers.
Members of the UB Food Lab attended Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UB students and faculty organized a training on food systems planning at Habitat III. A team of five from the Food Lab, including Dr. Raja, staff, graduate students, and a volunteer facilitated the training. The mayor of Sucre, Bolivia, which has many innovative policies pertaining to food, opened the session, along with Cecilia Marocchino from FAO headquarters. Participation exceeded the anticipated number of attendees - about 75 individuals from across the globe attended the training. The training was simultaneously translated in Spanish, as many attendees were from South America.
In September 2016 the New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association held its annual conference in Buffalo, New York. With the theme of “rustbelt reborn”, it was appropriate to hold a session on planning for refugee populations, as refugees have contributed significantly to Buffalo’s renaissance. An overview of the resettlement process was provided, as well as presentations by civil society groups, a resettlement agency, and a representative from the local government. The session ended with a training to aid participants in thinking as to how planners can support refugee populations through resettlement.
Faculty in social work and medicine are conducting community-engaged research to understand the effects of trauma and improve mental health and, in turn, social participation among refugees.
Learn about the WNY Center for Survivors of Torture
Review mental health research being conducted by faculty at UB