The first two families of Afghan evacuees have arrived in Massachusetts, and more than 1,000 more people fleeing Afghanistan will soon need resettlement statewide.
Communities across the country will accept 65,000 Afghans in the coming months, and possibly 30,000 more in the coming year, according to The Boston Globe. The scale of the crisis has not been seen for decades, and governments and organizations are mobilizing resources at all levels.
Here’s how many Afghan refugees are coming to mass – and how you can help
“It’s unprecedented – the last major humanitarian effort like this took place after the Vietnam War,” said Jeff Kinney, working with Ascentria Care Alliance in Worcester, which is working to bring about 400 evacuees. in Worcester and western Massachusetts. World. “But this one is huge because it happened so quickly, and the relocation is going to have to happen so quickly.”
All Afghan evacuees go through a Department of Homeland Security screening process before being admitted, including a health check and COVID-19 vaccination, WCVB reported. In addition to the 900 to 1,100 evacuees who will be relocated to Massachusetts, another 760 will be distributed among Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
“Massachusetts is pleased to welcome the first family of Afghan evacuees to the Commonwealth and looks forward to working with the federal government and local nonprofits serving these populations as more evacuees arrive in the weeks and the coming months, “a state spokesperson wrote in a statement. statement to WCVB.
Many evacuated Afghans are not entitled to refugee status and are considered on humanitarian parole, according to the World, which means that they are not eligible for asylum benefits. State officials are working to address this issue and are considering legislation to extend MassHealth coverage to evacuees and fund financial assistance and services.
Maxine Stein, President and CEO of Jewish Family Service, coordinates volunteers to help Afghans resettle in western Massachusetts. Her biggest concern is finding housing for people, so her organization is looking for apartments, AirBnbs, in-laws, and other accommodation for host families for weeks or months, MassLive reported. .
She has made a wish list of items like pillows and cooking utensils to help set up households, and Jewish Family Services of MetroWest has a available form for anyone who can provide accommodation.
“The response from the community has been very nice and extremely kind”, Stein says MassLive. “This is an incredibly beautiful response that we are seeing from the community as a whole. I think it’s a reflection of the responsibility we feel as Americans.
Meg Gallo, of the Boston Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center, told the World it has been a huge undertaking, but the community has stepped forward to help.
“The people of Massachusetts have been absolutely phenomenal; there was a wave of support, ”she said.
The father of the second family to arrive, whose names are not disclosed, worked for the United States while in Afghanistan, and said he was afraid when he saw the Taliban take more and more of his country.
“It was very scary for me and my family,” he said. “I am so grateful to the people who helped me get through this with my family. I am so happy. And I thank the people who welcome us here.
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