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Refugee groups trying to help migrants relocated to Martha's Vineyard

Refugee groups trying to help migrants relocated to Martha's Vineyard
Refugee groups trying to help migrants relocated to Martha's Vineyard 02:53

CAMBRIDGE - Abdul Musawer Kazimi says he can relate to the trauma of the new arrivals on Martha's Vineyard, having fled the Taliban during the mass evacuation of Afghanistan just over a year ago. "What they're thinking is different than reality, it's black and white," Kazimi said.

Like the migrants, he says he had no idea where he was going when he boarded the plane. "I can't imagine what they're going through, it's a very bad situation," Kazimi said. "It's frustrating I had no idea what was happening and where we were going."

He came to the United States, he says, with one pair of clothes, $100.00 in his pocket, and now works with the International Institute of New England trying to help refugees like himself find jobs.

The agency's director, Jeff Thielman, says jobs will be an immediate challenge. "This is a high-cost state we live in. They can't stay long without assistance and will need government assistance of some sort to stay here for the long term," said Thielman.

This type of transport, he says, is highly unusual. New arrivals usually come in a more organized fashion with social service agencies prepared for them. "We receive them at the airport, housing is secured for them, we help them access benefits, healthcare plan, enroll kids in school," said Thielman.

Elias Rosenfeld, who came to the United States from Venezuela when he was six years old, says he can only speculate on why the migrants left their country. "The economy has been a shambles for over three decades," Rosenfeld said.

But he says Florida, with a large Venezuelan community, was likely part of a plan that's been upended. "Given that they were suddenly dropped in Martha's Vineyard it's hard for a lot of folks to create a plan given how quickly they were transferred. Not a moment's notice to craft that plan," said Rosenfeld.

What the future holds for the migrants is another question, and Rosenfeld says they've already been through so much. "These families put all their chips in coming to this country, the journey is expensive, it's dangerous, and it's not guaranteed," he said.

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