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Local refugee resettlement programs ready to welcome refugees from Afghanistan

Posted at 4:25 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 17:16:52-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As the Taliban take control of Afghanistan, some Afghans are trying to seek refuge in the U.S., and refugee resettlement programs in Western New York said they're ready to welcome them.

"We're ready to receive whatever Afghani community members we can receive during this crisis," said Dr. Anna Mongo, Chief Program Officer at Jericho Road Community Health Center.

State Senator Sean Ryan said the number of Afghans seeking refuge in Buffalo - or in the state - is unknown.

"It's got more to do with how the Federal government manages the exit from Afghanistan," he said. "And so we have to work with the federal government and provide those linkages to people who are trying to get the applications filled out."

When refugees arrive, the U.S. Department of State's Reception and Placement Program provides funds to cover refugees' rent, furnishings, food, and clothing for an initial 90-day period.

Each refugee approved is sponsored by a non-profit resettlement agency, like Jericho Road or the International Institute of Buffalo.

"We find them housing and furnish that housing before they arrive," said Eva Hassett, Executive Director at the International Institute of Buffalo. "We meet them at the airport, we help them get their kids registered in school, we help them sign up for healthcare, we start to talk about getting a job,"

Only 19 cities in the U.S. are designated to accept immigrants on special visas, and Buffalo is one of them.

The New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program allows local resettlement programs to continue to help beyond that 90th day.

"Our message to those people coming to America is Buffalo is ready to welcome you," said Senator Ryan.