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Local agencies prepare for Afghan refugees to arrive in Buffalo

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 19:16:50-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As tensions continue to rise in Afghanistan, local agencies, like the Jewish Family Services (JFS), are preparing for Afghan refugees to resettle in Buffalo.

The CEO of JFS, Dr. Molly Carr said refugees have not arrived in Buffalo yet.

“We’ve seen the reports of the desperation at the airports,” Carr said. “We hope to give them the Buffalo experience. We need to welcome them when they come in and let them know we are happy they are going to be part of our community."

Many of the refugees have Special Immigrant Visas and are flying into military bases in the U.S. to be processed.

“Several of our team members here at JFS are in Virginia and Texas as we speak helping to process these refugee arrivals right now,” Carr said.

After the refugees are processed, they will be resettled throughout America. Only 19 cities in the U.S. are designated to accept immigrants on special visas, and Buffalo is one of them. The Jewish Family Services Board Chair, Blaine Schwartz, said this is what the City of Good Neighbors is all about

“Buffalo is known by the national resettlement agencies as one of the warmest and most welcoming communities in the area in the United States,” Schwartz said.

Congressman Brian Higgins credits refugees for Buffalo’s six percent population increase over the last decade.

“For the first time in 70 years, Buffalo’s population increased,” Higgins said. It’s a direct result of the generous arms and hands that are embraced by our friends around the world who experience problems at home."

Carr said it’s unclear how many refugees will resettle here.

“We do not know the number,” Carr said. “We do know they will get support when they arrive. The same support we give new arriving refugees, such as housing and food security.”

Carr said the plan changes every fifteen minutes, but people who want to volunteer to help settle the refugees will have more information soon.

“It’s a quickly escalating event that we’re working to have a comprehensive plan to support the refugees, but also to bring the community in to be engaged,” Carr said.