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Minnesota Communities And Organizations Prepare For Afghan Refugee Arrivals

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Chaos is still unfolding in Afghanistan as thousands of families try to flee the country.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services reports 35 Afghan refugees have already arrived as of August 16 and up to 65 refugees have been granted Special Immigrant Visas (SIV).

Many Americans await the arrival of Afghan refugees, including Nasreen Sajady. Sajady's family is from Afghanistan. Her parents came to the U.S. in the 1970s and have made it a mission to help those seeking refuge.

"We're all definitely paying close attention to what's going on right now," Sajady said. "We're trying to figure out how to connect to Fort Wayne, to see if we can start maybe figuring out how to help these refugees resettle."

Resettlement agencies including the International Institute of MN (IIM) have also worked hard to prepare for Afghan refugees. So far the institute has resettled two families in one week.

Jane Graupman, the executive director of IIM said the biggest challenge is housing and getting enough funds.

"If we get large families it's always hard to find housing for folks because people need a bigger space and a lot of people don't have a lot of funds to rent those spaces. They get a one-time grant from the U.S. government and then folks have to go to work," Graupman explained.

Graupman said historically refugees are a benefit to the country where they resettle.

"Many studies have been done, the financial contributions refugees make is remarkable. It's hundreds of millions of dollars," Graupman said.

Sajady is calling all Americans to unite and welcome those fleeing for their safety.

"We are humans, there's been a campaign to dehumanize us for 20 years. The media has done a great job of making our men look like terrorists and all our women look pathetic like we can't take care of ourselves. That's not right, it's a terrible narrative," Sajady said.

IIM says about 10,000 refugees have already been granted SIVs overseas in Kabul.

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