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Unrest in Afghanistan could affect refugee situation in mid-Missouri

This story originally appeard on KMIZ. Read the full story online: KMIZ Website

By Lucas Geisler Published  

Unrest in Afghanistan could affect refugee situation in mid-Missouri

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KMIZ

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

A mid-Missouri agency that helps refugees coming to the United States said it’s preparing for more work following unrest in Afghanistan.

Samantha Moog, director of refugee services at Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, said she and other federal and private agencies have been working together for weeks on a possible influx of requests to resettle out of Afghanistan. While the typical process of allowing a refugee to come to the U.S. often takes years to complete, Moog said she was unsure how recent federal action may change the process for Afghans seeking escape.

President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that the White House would spend $500 million to help resettle those affected by the Taliban’s recent surge in the country. That includes working on special immigration visas, or SIVs, for those applying from Afghanistan.

Mid-Missouri has a small Afghan refugee population. Moog said family ties are the primary factor the State Department considers when resettling a refugee in the U.S. Numbers from the agency show 37 Afghan refugees resettled in mid-Missouri since 2001. That makes up 1.6 percent of all those resettled in mid-Missouri since 2001.

“I’ve been asked a lot recently about, ‘Are we going to resettle any Afghan SIVs in our region?’ And the answer is ‘maybe.’ We don’t have a large Afghan population in central Missouri. It’s smaller than some of our other refugee and immigrant communities.”

The data shows that refugees from Myanmar make up the area’s largest refugee community at 661 people. Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo are second and third at 325 and 323 people respectively.

Garry Reid with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Special Immigration Visa effort said Afghan refugees would be housed and processed for resettlement at bases in Texas and Wisconsin.

Moog said her department would be ready to travel to help with the resettlement process.