While people from around the world have come to Lowell voluntarily, more recent history has seen an increase in groups fleeing civil wars and religious and ethnic persecution. The first large group of refugees to make Lowell their home was the Cambodians starting in the 1970s. Large numbers of people are arriving in the 21st century from numerous African countries including Cameroon, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria. Since 2014, refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, have become residents of Lowell. Many Congolese refugees come from the North and South Kivu states, parts of the country that share borders with Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.