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Lansing organizations still waiting to welcome Afghan Refugees

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:06 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - By Thursday, it was expected for Michigan to welcome hundreds of Afghan refugees home. However, it looks like we will have to keep waiting.

Judy Harris of St. Vincent’s Catholic Charities told News 10 that the continued delays are challenging to those waiting to help.

“Initially we were told that they’d be coming anytime, in the next couple of weeks and now we’ve been told that there’s some bottlenecks happening at the military bases where the Afghans are staying,” Harris said. “So it will probably be delayed until about October. We might get a few cases before then, but most will be in October.”

Erika Brown-Binion of the Refugee Development Center recognizes the effort being made to make their arrivals possible.

“You can imagine all of the logistics that go into that and being ready to welcome,” she said. “We’re working really close with our partners who first meet folks and then we’re here to offer services for the long term so that people are able to thrive here in Lansing. It takes a lot of work a lot of coordinated effort and we’re ready.”

The Biden Administration has notified Governors and state refugee coordinators about how many refugees they anticipate will be coming to the U.S. once they arrive. People like Erika and Judi are the ones who will welcome them home.

They are both hopeful that Lansing will welcome them with open arms, as it has for years.

“Lansing has been a resettlement city for over four decades and twenty years ago we started welcoming Afghan refugees here who have been part of the fabric of our community since then. We have folks who are eager to welcome old friends and people who are from their home country and make Lansing their home here,” said Erika.

Until then, St. Vincent Catholic Charities said that they are still in need of interpreters who can help make the transition less challenging. Judi says, for refugees arriving from Afghanistan, any act of kindness will help.

”Most of these folks had no idea they’d be coming to the U.S. they didn’t know these kind of things would be happening in Afghanistan and so they really weren’t ready,” she said.

At this time, St. Vincent Catholic Charities are not accepting donations. However, they are actively looking for interpreters for both Pashto and Dari speaking people. The organization is also continuously in search of affordable housing options for refugees.

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