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Utah groups prepare to receive, resettle Afghan refugees

In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division escort evacuees at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday. (Cpl. Davis Harris, U.S. Marine Corps via AP)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — As the crisis continues to unfold in Afghanistan, two groups in Utah are preparing to receive and resettle refugees fleeing the country, and they're asking for the public's help.

"We need your help. We cannot do this work alone," said Aden Batar, director of migration and refugee services for Catholic Community Services.

Batar said Utah is one of 19 places around the country that the federal government has decided to send refugees to from Afghanistan.

Working with refugees is nothing new for Catholic Community Services or the International Rescue Committee, the two organizations in the state authorized to resettle them.

But, with the quick withdrawal of U.S. troops and the sudden collapse of the Afghan government, Batar said the situation is unfolding quickly "and we have to deal with that urgency because many of them are escaping as soon as possible."

Over the last few days, the airport in Kabul has erupted into chaos as U.S. citizens and Afghans struggle to break free from a country now under the rule of the Taliban.

"Recently, we have been building our capacity, getting ready for the refugee arrivals, but we weren't expecting this crisis that was going to happen so suddenly," Batar said. "But we are ready. We are always ready to resettle refugees in any moment."

He said they can use help.

That's why Catholic Community services and IRC are asking for donations of time, resources and money. They're looking for people who can temporarily house refugees, and others who can give their time mentoring and helping them secure housing and adapt to a new place, language and culture.

"We are required to do all the services and it's going to take a long time and it's going to take a lot of manpower," he said.

Batar said thousands have already arrived in the U.S. and are in Virginia for processing.

The IRC has had staff on the ground there assisting with their arrival.

Batar said he received a call Thursday, informing him that among those refugees is a family of eight that will soon make its way to Salt Lake City.

"We want every single one of the families we bring in to be self-sufficient immediately," he said.

Between IRC and Catholic Community services, they can assist up to 1,300 refugees.

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Matt Rascon

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