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Utah expected to welcome 765 Afghan refugees

Afghan refugees take an educational class at the Ft. McCoy Army base on Sept. 30 in Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin. The fort is one of eight military installations across the country that are temporarily housing the tens of thousands of Afghans who were forced to flee their homeland in August after the U.S. withdrew its forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban took control. (Barbara Davidson via AP)

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County was preparing to receive hundreds of Afghan refugees Friday, nearly two months after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and weeks after the first Afghan refugee arrived in the state.

Joseph Genda is the refugee liaison for Salt Lake County. He said overall, Utah is expected to receive 765 Afghan refugees.

Forty were headed to Utah Friday. About 100 more are planning to arrive by November.

Catholic Community Services and International Rescue Committee are the two local organizations who are helping to resettle the individuals and families that arrive. But Genda said Utahns across the state can and are offering to assist.

"I have been receiving a lot of calls, a lot of emails from people saying, 'How can we help?'" Genda said.

Genda is also a refugee, and he knows something of the challenges that come with adjusting to a new place.

"We know that some of them have experienced trauma," he said.

He said there is a strong Afghan community in Salt Lake County which will help.

Differences in language and culture are a long-term struggle. In the short-term, Genda said the priority is helping them with housing, jobs and psychological services.

Genda said the county intends to launch a fundraising campaign to help the refugees as they make Utah their new home.

"Someone reached out to me yesterday saying they have clothing and furniture they would like to donate. Those emails are coming in all the time, as well as phone calls," he said.

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Matt Rascon


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