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Afghans resettling in Minnesota grieve for lost nation but grateful for second chance at free society

The challenges facing Afghan refugees
The challenges facing Afghan refugees 02:44

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan the transition for refugees resettling in Minnesota is far from over.

"I still don't believe it," Anwar Jamili, an evacuee residing in Saint Paul, lamented WCCO. "It's like a horrible nightmare what happened."

Jamili, 46, arrived in Minnesota in April after a tumultuous journey from Kabul to Kosovo to Virginia and then Saint Paul. The father of three is a trained physician who worked with NGOs for more than a decade.

"I am a witness of progress in Afghanistan," Jamili said. "I am a witness to how was the situation of our roads, the situation of schools, hospitals and even the private sector. We had everything. Why did Kabul collapse? It's a question mark for everyone and not only me."

According to the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, more than 1200 Afghan refugees have resettled in Minnesota, with more than 85% of them living in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. The evacuees make up 386 family units with individuals ranging in age from infants to 73; 46% of arrivals were 15 and younger.

"I'm one of the luckiest in that I made my way here," Jamili, who moved here with his wife, three children, parents, and brother, insisted. "I'm very happy here with my family and I believe there is a future for my children."

Jamili himself works at three part time jobs, and state officials are warning of a lengthy and at times painful transition for the many evacuees who lack language and job skills afforded to others like Jamili.

"They need support with transportation, they only have a single income earner, and many of them were not formally educated," Anjuli Cameron, Research Director at the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans, explained to WCCO. "One of the big thing families are still struggling with is consumable items. They need car seats, cribs, diapers. We're also trying to help some of them to get behind-the-wheel practice for driver's licenses and then get vehicles."

Cameron added that Minnesotans are responding well to calls for social action, but she's encouraging them to be social as well.

"There's been a strong sense of isolation once they've moved into apartments or houses. They're not connected to the community around them."

The Council lists several ways for Minnesotans to get involved and help Afghan evacuees resettling in the North Star State:

  • Shop the Amazon Wishlist for needed items.
  • Help a newly arrived family furnish their new home. Donate new and gently used household items and furniture to Bridging in Roseville or Bloomington. You can also donate new and gently used household items, including larger furniture, to Alight for new family apartments. Contact for more information.
  • Make donations towards housing, meals, legal services and other resources. Visit GiveMN to directly donate funds to help meet the most critical needs for families.
  • Serve as an AmeriCorps member with the Refugee Response Initiative (RRI) to support Afghan refugees.
  • Volunteer your time: The Salvation Army is staffing volunteers to support new arrivals. Contact​.
  • Attend the Afghan Evacuee Community Roundtable: Join a weekly community gathering hosted by the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. To view meeting notes from the community roundtable, click here. If you have additional questions please contact

Alternately, you can get involved and offer support to the myriad agencies supporting resettlement program in Minnesota:

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