Inside the newsroom: The refugee story is an individual story

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

FILE – Mifunga Lyonze, Sifora Bamurange and Christine Mukankusi knit at a knitting group meeting for refugee women at the Utah Health and Human Rights office in Salt Lake City, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.


Deseret News reporter Gillian Friedman first became aware of the housing issue when she was exploring another issue — the struggles facing the women of The Women’s Knitting Circle.

The Women’s Knitting Circle is made up of eight Congolese women, refugees who have been relocated to Utah with their families and have one terrible thing in common: They are all victims of torture.

As Gillian wrote in her Oct. 12 story:

“Approximately 17,500 of the 50,000 refugees resettled in Utah have endured the unspeakable: repeated beatings, electric shocks, confinement in small cages, mock executions or being forced to witness the murder of family members.”

So they come together once a week in search of comfort and normalcy, some fighting depression or PTSD. But as Gillian learned, it’s not the only thing some refugees face. Surprisingly, some wonder if a return to the refugee camps would be better.

But why?

“The reason I was able to access this issue was through Utah Health and Human Rights helping the torture population,” Gillian told me as she started digging deeper into the plight of these individuals and families. Poverty is ever-present. And a big contributor is the difficulty in finding affordable housing.

In today’s Deseret News she chronicles the plight of George Ngunza, his wife Amisa and their 11 children. The family is also from the Congo and were desperate to leave violence and ultimately the refugee camp…

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