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How North Texans Can Help Afghan Refugees Settling In Dallas-Fort Worth

Boxex and bags piled up in a room
Haya Panjwani
/
KERA News
Refugee Services of Texas says it's received numerous donated items from the public.

Local refugee resettlement agencies are helping Afghans who recently arrived in North Texas and offer ways the public can help too.

Several North Texas organizations have been helping resettle hundreds of Afghans who’ve recently arrived in the U.S. Meanwhile, many North Texans are wondering how they can help. Below are some of the groups working on these efforts.

They’re looking for cash donations and supplies like diapers, as well as volunteers who speak the dialects Dari and Pashto.

International Rescue Committee 

The agency has in recent weeks resettled 45 Afghan newcomers, who are in the U.S. with a special immigrant visa. The group plans to resettle more people in the coming weeks.

The Afghan SIV program allows individuals who worked with the U.S. military in Afghanistan to resettle in the U.S. with their families. They’ve all undergone security background checks and health screenings.

Suzy Cop, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in Dallas, said the agency expects to receive at least twice as many more Afghans.

The IRC website lists four ways residents can help like donating to an Amazon wishlist and emailing VolunteerDallas@rescue.org. You can find more information here.

“The No. 1 thing we are asking for is to donate to our emergency fund, which will give us flexibility in whatever support the newcomers will need,” Cop said. “There will also be volunteer opportunities, especially for those that speak Dari and Pashto.”

Refugee Services of Texas

The agency has so far helped resettle 75 Afghan special immigrant visa holders, their spouses and children in Texas.

Here’s a breakdown by city:

Dallas: 19

Fort Worth: 10

Austin: 35

Houston: 11

Refugee Services of Texas expects to receive up to 574 Afghans with the special visa by the end of September. It’s asking for the public’s help in donating several items:

  • Razors
  • Diapers of any size
  • Toothpaste
  • Bars of soap
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Wet wipes
  • U shaped bike locks

The organization has been overwhelmed by the public’s generosity, said Mark Hagar, Refugee Services of Texas’ Dallas area director. He’s encouraging people to reach out to their elected officials to show their support for the resettlement program and “to make sure that we're resettling a number of people each year.”

You can make a donation on the agency’s website.

Catholic Charities Fort Worth

This organization has helped resettle 28 Afghan immigrants in August.

Catholic Charities says it helps refugees throughout their resettlement journey, from their arrival to finding employment. The agency also hosts refugee-centered programs.

The agency lists a variety of ways North Texas residents can help on their website including: donations, gift cards, volunteers and connections to housing and transportation for move-ins.

Katelin Courtney, the strategic communications director at Catholic Charities Fort Worth, said she hopes North Texans understand it's a developing situation.

"The agencies are navigating this a day at a time so patience and allowing them time to respond to inquiries would be helpful," she said.

Catholic Charities Dallas

The agency will have helped 22 Afghans resettle in North Texas by the end of the week.

North Texans can help by providing donations for rental and utility assistance, as well as in-kind donations for apartments.

Catholic Charities will also need volunteers to help with mentorship, apartment set-ups, airport pick-ups, transportation, job searches and interpretation in the Dari and Pashto dialects.

Contact Sahil Gilani, the director of programs and refugee services, at 972-246-6010.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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