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Afghan refugees continue to arrive in Lansing

Judi Harris wearing a mask, standing in front of a sign
Kevin Lavery
Judi Harris leads refugee resettlement efforts with St. Vincent Catholic Charities.

More than half of the 300 Afghan refugees expected to resettle in Lansing have now arrived.

About 170 people have come to the city since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in September.

Most of them are now in apartments and houses, while some are in hotels waiting for permanent housing.

Judi Harris is the Director of Refugee Services at St. Vincent Catholic Charities. She says in her time helping resettle people, only a 2016 wave of Syrian refugees and an influx of ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo War in the late nineties compares.

"I still think that the airlift that was pulling people out of Afghanistan was historic, and we've never seen anything like that before."

She says her organization’s biggest need right now is people who can speak the Afghans' native languages, Dari and Pashto, to help manage cases.

Harris says they’ve seen more than a dozen people arrive each week for the past few months.

"We've asked them to slow down a little bit because it got to be a little overwhelming for the case managers."

Harris says arrivals will pick back up in January.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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