State says Afghan refugees will start to resettle in Rutland over the next few weeks
By Ethan Weinstein
Several families of Afghan refugees will settle in Rutland next month, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).
USCRI has been coordinating with Rutland organizations, such as Rutland Welcomes and the school system, to prepare for the families. Business leaders are also ready to hire the new Afghani Vermonters once they arrive.
“I think that what we will find is that the people are coming will have skills, and that they will be ready to be hired,” said Lyle Jepson, the executive director of the Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region (CEDRR). “Communication has been very good about what’s happening when it’s going to happen.”
About 80 refugees have already taken up residence in Vermont, and another 80 are expected within the next two months, Amila Merdzanovic, the Vermont USCRI director, told the Rutland Herald.
When the U.S. government pulled armed forces out of Afghanistan in August — ending the 20 year war — it put many Afghans who had assisted the U.S.’s military operation at risk, creating a refugee crisis. More than 70,000 refugees have already moved stateside or will soon resettle in the U.S.
Rutland Welcomes is one of the main organizations involved in the local resettlement process. The group is an informal organization that was first established in 2016 to help support refugees from Syria and Iraq who moved to Rutland. Carol Tashie, one of the group’s organizers, described Rutland Welcomes as a “loosely organized group of people interested in creating a welcoming environment for new Americans joining our community.”
Through their Facebook group and email list, the organization has distributed a spreadsheet outlining items that people can donate. Many of the needed donations have already been received, but more remain. The group has also been successful in finding volunteers to house the new arrivals before they settle into their own apartments.
For more information on how to support Rutland’s refugees, visit facebook.com/groups/rutlandwelcomes.