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Afghan refugees arriving in Amarillo and are in need of support

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 6:27 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Refugee Services of Texas only took in 45 refugees in the 2020 fiscal year and only 14 in 2019.

This year they’re bringing in 280. 65 more than what they were anticipating due to some coming into the United States as parolees.

“This is the first time for any Afghan parolees to come into the United States,” said Andrea Soliz, area director for Refugee Services of Texas. “Previously we’ve had Afghans as refugees and as SIV’s which are special immigrant visas.”

Parolees are different from refugees since they have to immediately flee their country to avoid persecution.

Cubans are the only other group that has come to Amarillo under these circumstances.

Refugee Services of Texas says it was an unexpected challenge for many organizations to handle once U.S. troops left the country.

“This situation for Afghanistan was a complete tragedy all at one time, and so it’s kind of happened all over the world, not just here in the United States where we’ve had to jump and kind of take part and see in what ways that we can help,” said Soliz.

Catholic Charities says they’ve been receiving them on a short notice.

“The very first Afghan refugee that we received, we got them two weeks ago, a young man,” said Jeff Gulde, executive director of the Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle. “The notice we received on him was five hours. We heard in the morning he was coming in the afternoon.”

With the influx, Refugee Services of Texas has had to hire more case workers and a community engagement staff to help with volunteers and donations.

Catholic Charities has recently hired people as well.

Both groups says they’re in need of volunteers and donations like hygiene products, prepaid cell phones, winter items, linens, cleaning supplies, and familiar foods that the refugee’s eat in Afghanistan.

You can contact Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle at (806) 376-4571.

You can contact Refugee Services of Texas at (806) 381-0099.

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