Catholic Charities in BR set to receive 49 Afghan refugees

Catholic Charities of BR preparing for refugees
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:17 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - According to a news release, Catholic Charities in Baton Rouge will receive 49 Afghan refugees.

“The American people have shown an overwhelming desire to help those from Afghanistan who risked their lives and the lives of their family members to help our troops,” said David C. Aguillard, executive director of CCDBR.

“We estimate this number will represent about 12 families who may begin arriving by the end of September. The news has come to us quickly, and we still have some details to work out for each arrival. But this type of work is a critical part of Catholic Charities’ Gospel mission, a work it initiated in the 1960s with arrivals from Cuba after the revolution there,” he said. The agency and its housing partners are confident in the availability of housing for these families, Aguillard said.

Aguillard pointed out that refugees should not be confused with immigrants, both who come to our country seeking a better life to support their families or escape persecution and violence.

Before arriving, refugees are invited into our country by the federal government and go through extensive security clearances. The Afghans will have also received a full set of required vaccinations, including COVID, and are tested for COVID. The U.S. program is considered one of the safest in the world, Aguillard said.

In the program, which is funded by the federal government, Catholic Charities routinely supports refugees assigned to them through the resettlement process. The Afghan families will receive the same services others in their circumstances qualify for: rental assistance, job training and placement, as well as orientation classes to help them adjust to life in the United States and our community. However, the duration of their benefits may be limited to 90 days in the existing program under which they will arrive. Congress is currently grappling with whether to extend those benefits beyond 90 days.

“Successful resettlements depend on the community reaching out and embracing arriving families,” Aguillard said. “We can use sponsors to help people learn how to, for example, take a bus around our city. How to use 9-1-1 services. How to schedule a medical appointment. While housing is provided, furniture is not. We have a desperate need for furniture because of the number arriving in a compressed time frame. Catholic Charities has experience with helping people who have assisted our troops. We did it after the Vietnam War, we did it after the wars in Iraq.

“These are a special group of people who have taken on extraordinary risks for themselves. I’ve seen other refugees who have helped our troops roll up their sleeves to show shrapnel wounds absorbed protecting American lives. I’ve felt metal lumped in their arms,” Aguillard said.

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