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CT Gears Up to Aid Hundreds of Afghan Refugees


Thursday, September 2, 2021   

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- As hundreds of thousands more people seek to leave Afghanistan after the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban takeover, Connecticut refugee advocates are poised to help those who will resettle in the state.

Bob Fishman, executive director of the Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition (CIRC), said local resettlement agencies are responsible for services such as case management and health screenings, along with finding and furnishing apartments.

He noted finding affordable housing under the threshold established by the Office of Refugee Resettlement can be a challenge.

"We hope that some landlords will be able to make exceptions to help people get started if the rent is higher than what the government will allow," Fishman urged. "And if not, then we ask the community to pitch in."

He added his group is helping to coordinate donations such as home furniture, pro bono legal counseling and monetary aid for some Connecticut residents' Afghan family members seeking humanitarian parole. President Joe Biden plans to increase the U.S. refugee cap to 125,000 for the fiscal year beginning this October, up from 62,000.

Fishman noted thousands of people from other countries still are waiting to be resettled, and that process will slow down for them because of the crisis in Afghanistan. CIRC and other agencies hope the Biden administration will allow even more refugees into the country.

"If it's possible, our agencies are open to handle both the people who have been in the pipeline, whether they're from Afghanistan or these other countries," Fishman explained.

Resettlement groups are also helping to enroll kids in school, providing employment counseling to people seeking work, and helping them enroll in SNAP benefits or rental-assistance programs if eligible.

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