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Afghan refugees begin arriving in the midstate

  • Julia Agos
In this image provided by the U.S. Army U.S.-affiliated Afghans depart Pristina International Airport in Pristina, Kosovo on Oct. 16, 2021. During their temporary stay at Camp Liya, Afghan families receive housing, medical, and logistical support from Task Force Ever Vigilant. The U.S. is welcoming tens of thousands of Afghans airlifted out of Kabul but has disclosed little publicly about a small group who remain overseas: Dozens who triggered potential security issues during security vetting and have been sent to an American base in the Balkan nation of Kosovo. The exact number in Kosovo fluctuates as new people arrive and others leave when security issues, such as missing documents, are resolved, according to U.S. officials.  (Sgt. Gloria Kamencik/U.S. Army via AP)

Sgt. Gloria Kamencik/U.S. Army via AP

In this image provided by the U.S. Army U.S.-affiliated Afghans depart Pristina International Airport in Pristina, Kosovo on Oct. 16, 2021. During their temporary stay at Camp Liya, Afghan families receive housing, medical, and logistical support from Task Force Ever Vigilant. The U.S. is welcoming tens of thousands of Afghans airlifted out of Kabul but has disclosed little publicly about a small group who remain overseas: Dozens who triggered potential security issues during security vetting and have been sent to an American base in the Balkan nation of Kosovo. The exact number in Kosovo fluctuates as new people arrive and others leave when security issues, such as missing documents, are resolved, according to U.S. officials. (Sgt. Gloria Kamencik/U.S. Army via AP)

(Lancaster) – Refugees who fled Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrawal in August are arriving in central Pennsylvania.

Church World Service, a refugee resettlement agency in Lancaster County, is working with 30 people who were temporarily housed at military bases around the country.

Most are either on humanitarian parole or special immigrant visa status because of their work with the U.S. government.

“We have been really overwhelmed by community support. We hope new neighbors feel this is a welcoming community,” said Rachel Helwig, Development & Communications Coordinator for the organization.

She said many in the community have opened their homes to recent arrivals or offered to cook meals.

Church World Service estimates 50,000 thousand people could be resettling in the U.S. from Afghanistan in the coming months.

Depending on the needs of the family or individual, the resettling process can take a few days or a few months.

Case managers and volunteers meet the new neighbors at the airport, help them find appropriate housing and provide a hot meal.

“Our support really ranges from sort of those initial material and logistics needs, as well as those more intangible needs for friendship and connection,” Helwig said.

Case managers can also help with setting up medical appointments, obtaining employment documents and other things like cultural orientation and weather clothing.

“Resettlement into a new community is a time of hope and excitement as people recognize the ability to build new lives in safety, but I think it’s also a time of challenge and grief and anxiety,” Helwig said.

In Lancaster, the organization is ready to receive at least 30 more refugees a month.

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