Dec 20, 2021 - News

Northern Virginia's Afghan resettlement effort continues

A Afghan woman holds a toddler outside Dulles International Airport.
Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles this summer. Photo: Kent Nishimura /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Northern Virginia continues to play an important role in resettling Afghan refugees. It's a popular resettlement area in part because it already has a large Afghan community.

What's happening: As of Dec. 7, almost 3,000 Afghans have been resettled in Virginia.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a nonprofit that supports vulnerable immigrants, has resettled about 1,200 Afghan refugees in NoVa since the summer.

  • The organization recently opened its fifth D.C.-area resettlement office in order to meet the growing need for refugee resources and support.

Why it matters: Afghans who escaped after the Taliban's takeover faced difficult journeys to safety, and are now working to start over in a foreign country. For those still trying to emigrate to the U.S., the process is getting harder.

  • Muzhgan Azizy, a newly arrived Afghan refugee and LIRS senior program officer for Afghan placement and assistance, shared some of the challenges her family faced in the U.S., from sleeping on the floor of an unfurnished apartment to her son finding his classes at school.
  • She asked Americans to be patient with refugees as they navigate a new culture, and encouraged employers to hire Afghans.

LIRS and other nonprofits are helping with everything from providing cell phones to housing to diapers. They're also trying to make sure refugees who worked in professional fields including as doctors and professors are able to find fulfilling work in their areas of expertise.

What they say: "These people who are coming here legitimately had targets on their backs. The Taliban wanted them dead because they stood with America. We have an obligation to now stand with them," LIRS director of outreach Kristin Witte tells Axios.

How you can help: Volunteers are needed to help with a variety of tasks including English-as-a-second-language teachers, tutors, and mentors. LIRS also has an Amazon Wishlist.

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