Atlanta-area nonprofit asks for help with 800 Afghans on the way

Resettlement agencies are gearing up to welcome Afghans who fled the country due to the Taliban’s takeover last month — and they need the public’s help.

The takeover, coupled with the U.S. withdrawal, has created an unexpected humanitarian crisis. In addition to the nearly 1,000 refugees from the around the world the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta was planning on aiding in the upcoming fiscal year, the agency is now planning to take in about 800 of the 1,080 Afghans entering the state as humanitarian parolees. An additional 230 Afghan parolees will be assisted by other metro Atlanta agences, and 50 will be assisted in the Savannah area, organization leaders said.

To meet the needs of arriving Afghans, the International Rescue Committee in Atlanta announced Wednesday they have set a $1.7million fundraising goal for the 2022 fiscal year. The organization announced their goal during a webinar Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a bold goal, but it’s exactly the kind of boldness we need in order to do right by families that we’ll be serving,” said Justin Howell, IRC Atlanta’s executive director.

Unlike people entering the country through the refugee resettlement program, humanitarian parolees are granted temporary immigration status, and are permitted to enter the U.S. in emergency situations. They are given a three-month window to become economically self-sufficient, as opposed to the six months afforded to refugees, and are not eligible for social programs, such as SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps.

The funding the IRC is seeking is partly to cover the cost of services that social programs traditionally pay for.

“For us it’s replacing the lost funding and support services for the community,” Howell said. “... we need to turn to the community and ask them to step up, and I believe people will, because I think this is a different situation. These are our allies.”

Afghans entering as parolees may apply for asylum, or green cards, once they are in the country, but can be asked to return to their home country if their applications are denied.

Aid organizations are asking for donations ranging from school supplies to clothing, and for community members to hire new arrivals for jobs and volunteer with the agencies.

Legal aid is also needed.

Humanitarian parole filing paperwork can cost about $575 per-family member, and about $160 per-person for additional documents, said Alpa Amin, the executive director of the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network. There are also translation costs that her organization has been funding.

“... we have birth certificates, passports, national IDs, military cards that have to be translated and we haven’t been able to tap into a consistent pool of volunteers for that need,” she said.

GAIN has set an internal fundraising goal of $300,000, which includes services such as filing fees, and costs associated with translating documents, project management support and case placement. The group is also open to volunteers who speak Farsi, Dari, Pashto and other languages commonly spoken in the region.

Political leaders are showing support for these new arrivals from Afghanistan.

Last month Gov. Brian Kemp expressed support for taking in some Afghan refugees.

ExploreGeorgia gov open to accepting Afghanistan refugees after Taliban takeover

Clarkston Mayor Beverly Burks, whose city is known as a haven for immigrants and refugees, said her city is ready to welcome any Afghans who get resettled in their area.

“We are grateful that Clarkston will be home for some of the 1,100 Afghans coming to Georgia, and we can provide a community for them to rebuild their lives,” Burks said.

Some corporations in the metro Atlanta area have already committed to help refugees with job placements. Earlier this month, UPS and InterContinental Hotels Group joined the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees to hire those newly arrived.

Chris Purdy, the director of Vets for American Ideals, said part of the problem resettlement agencies are facing is mismanagement of refugee programs under previous administrations, mixed with a slew of humanitarian crises happening simultaneously.

“When you’re in the military you have this ethos of leave no one behind, and the way that the withdrawal was executed, veterans were forced to violate that ethos and it imparted significant moral injury on the veteran community,” Purdy said.

Purdy said supporting the resettlement of Afghans is important to veterans, many of whom promised their translators and other Afghans who helped them overseas, that they would get the help they needed.

“They said ‘I’m speaking on behalf of the United States government and I guarantee that if you help us we will help you,’ and that promise was broken,” Purdy said. “It’s not just the U.S. government that broke that promise from the veteran’s perspective, there is a personal sense of betrayal and wrong that veterans feel right now that needs to be corrected.”

Staff writers Zachary Hansen and Greg Bluestein contributed to this story.


How to help:

International Rescue Committee in Atlanta:

Website: https://www.rescue.org/announcement/how-help-our-afghan-neighbors-georgia

Donations: https://help.rescue.org/donate/us-atlanta-ga

Refugee Women’s Network:

Website: https://refugeewomensnetworkinc.org/

Email: ally@georgiaasylum.org

Phone: 404-585-1266

Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network

Website: https://georgiaasylum.org/project-ally/

To volunteer: https://lnkd.in/eN6SvxNK

Vets for American Ideals

Website: https://www.vfai.org/

CARE US

Website: www.care.org/welcomerefugees

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