Humanitarian group prepares for Afghan refugees

People who helped U.S. troops and diplomats in Afghanistan are terrified they'll be targeted by...
People who helped U.S. troops and diplomats in Afghanistan are terrified they'll be targeted by the Taliban after Kabul's fall.
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s all hands on deck for a humanitarian group called the International Rescue Committee. The group is preparing for more Afghan refugees in the hopes of helping them become self-sufficient in their new homes.

The IRC has offices in Richmond and Charlottesville. The Richmond office says, in most cases, they have two to three weeks to prepare. But with everything unfolding so fast overseas, sometimes they’re left with only days or even hours before fleeing families arrive.

“Sometimes only two to three hours before their arrival to Richmond, so our staff has been mobilized,” said Richmond site manager, Justin Gandy, adding that staff has been trying to be as responsive as possible.

The goal of the IRC is to be there every step of the way for resettling the Afghan refugees: From arrival at the airport, and hopefully, later down the line to naturalized citizenship.

“We’re helping enroll kids in schools, to get needed medical exams, enroll into English classes. We enroll in employment services so that families can get prepared to work as soon as possible,” Gandy said.

On a normal week, he says his office may see one or two new clients. Halfway through this week, they’ve already added half a dozen - all specifically tied to the Middle-East conflict.

Yearly, they average around 140 clients.

“I would not be surprised if we surpassed that, given the crisis and how fast these families would be able to travel. We would welcome as many that are in need of a safe space as possible.”

With such a large task, Gandy says the IRC can’t tackle it alone.

“With the situation unfolding as quickly as it is, I would say financial donations are always helpful, most flexible. These families are arriving on very short notice, and sometimes they’re having to stay in temporary housing, so financial contributions are well received.”

You can contribute to the IRC’s cause, here.

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