Vermont approved to welcome 100 Afghan refugees

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Vermont approved to welcome 100 Afghan refugees

Thu, 09/16/2021 - 4:42pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) was approved this week by the US Department of State to welcome up to 100 Afghans in Vermont in the weeks ahead. An exact timeline of arrivals has not yet been established.

USCRI is a national nonprofit resettlement agency that assists people who have migrated to the US to help them live safe and dignified lives. USCRI’s Vermont Office, Governor Scott, the State Refugee Office at the Vermont Agency of Human Services and other refugee programs have been pursuing opportunities to welcome refugees over the last several weeks.

The goal is to accommodate some of the many Afghans who are being targeted due to support of the US military and US government agencies, as well as media and non-governmental organizations, following the end of US military operations in Afghanistan.

“We have a moral obligation to help the people of Afghanistan, who did so much to help us in the War on Terror,” said Governor Phil Scott. “In addition to this being the right thing to do, we know that welcoming more refugees also strengthens communities, schools, our workforce, culture and economy. I appreciate the federal government’s partnership in helping us welcome more families to Vermont.” 

For years, the Governor has requested annual increases in refugee resettlement in Vermont as part of a comprehensive strategy to increase economic growth and expand Vermont’s workforce.

“We were glad to receive this approval from the State Department. It is an honor to help those who have helped our service members overseas and it is a wonderful opportunity for Vermont’s communities and for our businesses who are very interested in expanding our workforce and filling our job vacancies,” said Tracy Dolan, the director of the State Refugee Office, which is working closely with USCRI to plan support services for Afghans arriving in Vermont.

“We are learning from our colleagues at military bases and arrival centers across the country that employment is one of the highest priorities mentioned by these newly arriving Afghans. They are eager to find jobs and rebuild their lives,” added Dolan.

USCRI Vermont will work closely with the State, as well as with schools, employers, landlords, and health and social service programs, to meet the needs of arriving Afghans and of the community. Before they arrive in Vermont, Afghans will have completed medical and security screenings, and will be authorized to work. USCRI is continuing to respond to Vermont volunteers and businesses interested in offering support.

“I want to thank Vermonters for the outpouring of support we are receiving – we are not always fast to respond immediately to your offers due to the preparations we are making but want you to know we are thankful as we work together to extend a warm welcome to our Afghan neighbors,” said Amila Merdzanovic, Director of USCRI. 

The State Department also approved the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) to open a new field office in Brattleboro. ECDC is a resettlement agency that works with refugees from around the world and hired Joe Wiah, who will begin his new role as director of the Brattleboro Office on September 20. ECDC plans to submit a proposal to the State Department to welcome 25 Afghans to Brattleboro in the coming months.

“ECDC is grateful for the support it has received from the Brattleboro community, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the Community Asylum Seekers Project, Shapiro Foundation and the Braden-Harder & Lawrence Harder Charitable Fund to open a new branch office, the ECDC Multicultural Community Center,” said Jessica Chapman, Community Outreach Manager, ECDC. “After many months of planning and discussions we look forward to starting the work of welcoming refugees and Special Immigrant Visa holders to the southern part of Vermont.” 

The State will continue to provide additional information on the resettlement of Afghans in Vermont as more details become available.

Responding to the announcement, Vermont Chamber President Betsy Bishop said, “We are proud that Vermont was approved to welcome up to 100 Afghan refugees to our state. For years, the Vermont Chamber has supported additional funding for refugee resettlement in Vermont. Welcoming these refugees to our state is part of the Vermonter spirit, helps our economy, and grows our workforce when we need it most.”

Additional Information:

Afghan Inquiries (U.S. Department of State): https://www.state.gov/afghanistan-inquiries/

Resources for Afghan Allies still in Afghanistan (USCRI): https://refugees.org/resources-for-afghan-allies/

About ECDC: Ethiopian Community Development Council (ecdcus.org)

State of Vermont, Agency of Human Services: https://humanservices.vermont.gov/

Source: 9.16.2021. Montpelier www.vermont.gov