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More Afghan refugees will be in Salt Lake County by week’s end

An Afghan man carries a girl as he and other refugees arrive at a processing center in Chantilly, Va., on Monday after arriving on a flight at Dulles International Airport. (Andrew Harnik, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Community leaders say Utah will get a “rapid influx” of Afghan refugees by week’s end. And on Tuesday, the groups helping to settle all those people asked for help from the Salt Lake County Council.

150 Afghan refugees coming

Leaders from Catholic Community Services and the International Rescue Committee, the two groups helping with Afghan refugee resettlement largely in Salt Lake County, say almost 150 of the 675 Afghans expected to land in Utah will be here this week.

“On top of that, we expect other refugees that are coming from the refugee camps,” Catholic Community Services of Utah Director of Migration and Refugee Services, Aden Batar told the council’s work session Tuesday.

Afghan refugees will include children

Batar said some of those will be children, too.

“We are going to be getting some unaccompanied minors that will be coming without their parents. And we are looking for foster homes for them,” Batar said.

Housing, according to Batar and the other leaders, is one of their biggest needs.

“This is a rapid increase for us. And so we are staffing up and making sure we have both those temporary housing solutions. And then looking for broader support on longer term housing solutions as well,” said Natalie El-Deiry, Director of the International Rescue Committee. 

Looking for help

Batar asked the committee for contacts with landlords or hotels who could help. 

The groups presented to the council that they are focused on three areas of help with community, state, and local partners.  Those are housing needs, basic needs, and community support for all those who come here from Afghanistan.

They also asked the committee to “fill the gaps” through providing vaccination and other immunizations before arriving in Utah. And increase the county’s Behavioral Health contract amounts for IRC and CCS to address the mental health needs of the newly arrived refugees. And have them help make county spaces available for the groups to meet with clients and do community education.

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