Tri-Cities expects dozens of Afghan refugees next year


RICHLAND, Washington – Thousands of Afghans left their country after the Taliban takeover in August and now they call Washington and the Tri-Cities their home.

Our neighborhood houses World Relief Tri-Cities, which is the only refugee resettlement agency in Southeast Washington. Its other locations are Spokane, Kent and Bellingham.

“Between 2010 and 2020, Washington hosted more than 4,000 Afghan special immigrant visa holders. In this federal exercise alone, Washington welcomed 348 people from Afghanistan between October 1, 2020 and July 30, 2021. Operation Refuge of the Allies, from July 29 to August 14, 2021, Washington welcomed 160 Afghans to our local communities. Washington plans to receive more Afghan people and families through this program, ”said an declaration on the State Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance.

The 4,000 SIV are among the more than 30,000 refugees the state has taken in during this 10-year period, according to this report. Release from the governor’s office.

Over the past few weeks, World Relief Tri-Cities has welcomed 21 refugees from all over the world, including “a few” from Afghanistan. But over the next year, the agency expects at least 70 more Afghan refugees to arrive here locally.

“It’s not easy for people to leave their homes. Leaving wars that you and your family will be safer and better off to go somewhere abroad where you don’t even speak the language is a huge decision and it’s often traumatic for people, ”said the director. Ken Primus. “The Afghans we are hosting now, of course, have recently been deported and have recently faced the trauma of deportation and the need to flee for their lives and the safety of their family members. “

Primus said that because of this, it is especially important that refugees feel welcome in their homes when they arrive.

Amira Al Salami, the agency’s refugee program specialist, said she knew exactly how refugees felt.

“I came from Iraq as a refugee and I am so lucky. I am blessed by God, ”said Al Salami. “This city is really tolerable. I have been here for 13 years and have been treated the best. He has a good heart.

When the refugees arrive, the agency takes them to a fully furnished apartment which is paid for within 90 days. They are greeted with a hot meal and presented in the neighborhood.

“Then we make them work with the Ministry of Social Services and Health (DSHS), ”Primus said.

The agency works with refugees to get medical insurance, initial health checks and make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations.

They also help provide them with legal, cultural and employment services.

“Not everyone recognizes that we have an Afghan community here in the Tri-Cities and I think it’s important that we recognize the cultural richness that we have in this community,” Primus said.

To make a financial donation to World Relief Tri-Cities, click on here. The agency is also looking for donated goods like gift cards, household items like lamps and bedding, and clothing. They are not looking for volunteers at this time.

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