WASHINGTON, D.C. — Days of stress, exhaustion and relief show on the faces of the Afghan refugees arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport.
What You Need to Know
North Carolina refugee agencies are preparing for many Afghans to come to the state
It’s unclear how many Afghan refugees may settle in North Carolina
Many refugees still have to be processed before they can come to their new homes
As Bedrija Jazic watches the families without homes pour into the United States, she’s left thinking what’s next.
“We’re trying to provide them with a sense of safety and welcome,” said Jazic, who is the Director of Refugee Services at Lutheran Services Carolinas.
Beyond being hospitable, the agency is there to provide the most basic essentials.
“Refugees are coming here with pretty much nothing, just clothes on their back, everything is needed,” Jazic said.
That also includes access to affordable housing, health care and help finding a job.
The goal is for the refugees to be independent within six months.
But there’s a problem.
“The issue is we don’t know when and how many we’re going to see,” Jazic said.
One reason is many of the Afghan refugees still have to be processed.
While many have applied for special immigrant visas because of their previous work with the U.S. government, others don’t fit that group.
“The question is where do they go and how do they get processed from there? And those infrastructures haven’t yet been set up so we can’t even answer that question,” HIAS President Mark Hetfield said.
Eventually, the refugees will get a choice of where they want to live in the U.S.
Over the years, Jazic said hundreds of Afghan refugees have settled in the Triangle.
And over the next few weeks another refugee settlement agency, World Relief, said it can expect around 30 to 50 families.
“Every new community starts with several families, and then that family reunification process is built on a community,” Jazic said.
Jazic is armed with homes, volunteers and whatever else is needed to accommodate how big that community may become.
Lutheran Services and other refugee agencies are always looking for volunteers and financial donations.