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Remembering Iowa's Refugee Legacy And Looking To The Future

Thousands of refugees were brought to Iowa starting in 1975, and again later in the decade. Many were fleeing political repression after the Vietnam War.

The world is experiencing an unprecedented refugee crisis. Right now, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are approximately 26 million refugees and around half of them are under the age of 18.

This crisis is being driven primarily by persecution, war, climate change, economic collapse and hunger. Because of the policies put in place by the Trump administration the United States has welcomed very few refugees in recent years, but the Biden administration has pledged to change those policies.

Courtesy of Mak Suceska
Mak Suceska came to Iowa as a child in 1993. His family became refugees after leaving Bosnia due to the Bosnian War. Suceska began working for the Iowa Bureau for Refugee Services as a teenager. Today, he is the bureau chief of the organization.

As the U.S. grapples with refugee and immigration policies, the Iowa Bureau of Refugees in Des Moines is supporting refugees who have made their homes in Iowa. On this Talk of Iowa podcast, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Mak Suceska, bureau chief of the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, about his refugee story and how the bureau is preparing for the future.


  • Mak Suceska, bureau chief, Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River