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Salt Lake County welcomes refugees, immigrants during annual “Welcoming Week”

DULLES, VIRGINIA - AUGUST 31: Refugees are led through the departure terminal to a bus at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on August 31, 2021 in Dulles, Virginia. The Department of Defense announced yesterday that the U.S. military had completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of war. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Leaders in Salt Lake County are celebrating the contributions of refugees and immigrants during Welcoming Week. 

It comes as more families head to Utah after fleeing a dangerous situation.

“As we’ve seen over the past month, one of the most pressing humanitarian crises of our time is happening in Afghanistan,” said Natalie El-Deiry, executive director for the International Rescue Committee of Salt Lake City. 

Welcoming Week

The theme of the 2021 Welcoming Week is “Belonging Begins With Us.” 

“We bring spice to Salt Lake County,” said Asha Parekh, the director of the Utah Refugee Services Office, at an event kicking of Welcoming Week last week.

The 12-day event features cooking classes, independent films and discussions about how refugees and immigrants enrich communities. 

“Utah is a kind and generous community, and Salt Lake County, as its most populous county, leads the way, said Parekh.

A list of events and information about Welcoming Week can be found at slco.org/welcoming-salt-lake.

Donations Needed

With more refugee families from Afghanistan coming to Utah, leaders are asking for donations.  

“Part of our work locally in the coming weeks will be to welcome hundreds of people who’ve been evacuated from Afghanistan as they make their way to Utah to become some of our newest neighbors,” El-Deiry said. 

However, she said they cannot do it alone.

Both Catholic Community Services and the IRC are requesting monetary contributions that can be stretched the most. As a result, the agencies can help incoming refugees start their new lives comfortably. 

The organizations are also welcoming donations of household goods, furniture, electronics, and gift cards to grocery stores. 

For ways to donate, visit rescue.org/announcement/items-needed-refugees-salt-lake-city and ccsutah.org/afghanistan-response.