Community groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

Although none have landed here yet, Delaware could see an influx of refugees from Afghanistan at any time.

More than 20,000 Afghan refugees could arrive on American soil next month, as the federal government expands visa programs for Afghans who supported the United States during the war.

A few thousand of these refugees have already arrived in the United States and have been placed across the country, the closest being in Philadelphia.

Faizal Chaudry is the vice president of the Delaware Islamic Society.

“The whole issue hasn’t really been planned properly from a federal perspective,” Chaudry said. “And I think that has put all institutions at a disadvantage, including religious communities, where all of a sudden I think everyone is sort of expecting a lot more inquiries for this purpose than we would have. could have foreseen otherwise. “

Jewish Family Services of Delaware is the only organization offering a First State refugee resettlement program and enlists the help of groups such as ISD when families arrive.

“We haven’t seen that sense of urgency in our time – our sense over the past five years, we haven’t seen it, maybe ten, we haven’t seen the sense of urgency and we are doing everything to prepare for it, ”JFS said. ‘Strategy Director, Rosi Crosby.

Crosby says his group has yet to be notified of the arrival of families in the first state, but could see more than ten families arrive in Wilmington on short notice.

Delaware does not generally play a large role in refugee resettlement, through the 2010s until now Delaware receives a small handful of refugees per year.

Other states, such as Pennsylvania and Texas, can accommodate up to 10,000 refugees in a single year.

Crosby says it’s partly because of the way the placement is decided. She says refugees are settled in cities according to their capacity, as well as the availability of services.

This is why refugees are only placed in big cities like Philadelpia or Wilmington, and not in Kent County or Sussex, as these towns offer access to government services, more housing and this allows programs like JFS help families more easily throughout the process.

Crosby points out that one of the biggest challenges is finding housing. These families also need help accessing health care, finding employment and even learning to drive.

Crosby says they are fortunate that many members of the community have reached out to offer their support. She says even large companies such as Airbnb have offered support to families who may need temporary housing.

She says the best thing the Delawaren can do to help is offer their help and kindness to these families, many of whom arrive in the country with nothing but clothes on their backs, and will need help. to integrate into the community.

Roman Battaglia is a member of the corps for Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

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