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Salt Lake County receives grant to serve Afghan refugees

Mar 31, 2022, 1:06 PM | Updated: 1:10 pm
Afghan refugees...
Tooba Siddiqui and Salika Shakir sort through donations gathered for newly arrived refugees from Afghanistan at the Utah Islamic Center in West Jordan on Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. Photo credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY — Open Society Foundations awarded $150,000 to Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office for New Americans. The grant will help the office’s Operation Afghan Refugee Support, which provides resources to Afghan refugees in the county.

The mayor’s office said the operation aims to help 550 Afghan refugees who have arrived in the county. The office said the grant will allow it to fill “urgent gaps in refugee services” and distribute resources to refugees.

How the grant will help Afghan refugees

“Salt Lake County is proud to welcome Afghan refugees, and this funding will help us make sure we can give them the support they need,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.

“The struggles faced by these families do not end once they arrive in our community. They face so many obstacles, including learning English and securing jobs and housing. They can’t do it all by themselves. Broad community support is critical, and we are thrilled these new funds will help,” Wilson added.

The mayor’s office said this grant was the largest awarded by Open Society Foundations for the purpose of helping refugees.

The office added that the grant will help Operation Afghan Refugee Support’s partners coordinate quickly to provide:

  • emergency kits,
  • school supplies,
  • rental assistance,
  • COVID-19,
  • mental health, and trauma screenings,
  • driver’s education,
  • English language education,
  • family immigration application fees.

The operation’s partners include Catholic Community Services, International Rescue Committee, Utah Muslim Civic League, Salt Lake City Know Your Neighbor, and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

“I am overjoyed by Open Society Foundations’ generous funding. It will help us identify and fill critical needs to provide refugees a strong start in their new Salt Lake County home,” said Joseph Genda, Salt Lake County Office for New Americans liaison. 

The mayor’s office said the county welcomes refugees from around the world and that they enrich the local community.

Salt Lake County is the first to be a “Certified Welcoming” county, according to the mayor’s office. The certification comes from Welcoming America, a non-profit organization. The non-profit seeks to ensure that everyone belongs, according to its website. Salt Lake County is the only area in Utah certified by the non-profit. 

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