Refugee resettlement agencies in Washington help evacuees from Afghanistan

The world is watching people desperately try to escape for their lives as Taliban forces take over Kabul, Afghanistan. Several organizations in Washington state are working countless hours to help refugees find safety in the Pacific Northwest.

Chitra Hanstad is the executive director of World Relief Seattle. It’s a refugee resettlement agency working to help as many people as possible make it out of Afghanistan alive.

"Women and children fair the worst in those situations because they’re much more vulnerable to trafficking and to other things," said Hanstad. "It’s really important that we step up right now. We have an opportunity as Americans to welcome folks and do it rapidly and evacuate them right away. But more than that, we as Washingtonians and Seattle and King County folks have this opportunity to welcome them to safety."

The executive director said some of her team members are in Washington D.C. helping refugees who have special immigration visas process paperwork before starting their new lives in Washington state.

"These are people that have helped our troops. We couldn’t have done what we did the last 20 years if it hadn’t been for them putting their lives on the line. So, we owe it to them to get them out as soon as possible," said Hanstad.

World Relief Seattle is in immediate need of community support in assisting evacuees. Hanstad said monetary donations, gift cards, employment, caseworkers and host homes are at the top of their list.

"We need, desperately need host homes. So, when people arrive, we get a call and they’re here the next day. So, we need somewhere to put them initially for a couple three weeks until we can find permanent housing for them," said Hanstad. 

Rep. J.T. Wilcox posted a tweet, Monday, calling on ideas to find homes for refugees.

"They earned their way into this country. They worked with us, a lot of them gave their lives and now they’re under terrible risk and threat. And I think our veterans know that better than anybody else," said Wilcox.

The District 2 representative and Washington State House Republican leader said the House Republic staff is writing a letter to Governor Jay Inslee and other caucus leaders in the entire congressional delegation offering cooperation from both sides of the aisle to support efforts.

"What we can do is let people know this doesn’t have to be controversial, it doesn’t have to be political. This is about helping people who stake their lives on us. And many of these people helped American service people that now live in Washington. And I think just showing that this doesn’t have to be political will help the federal government move faster because speed as we can see now is critical," said Wilcox.

World Relief is one of several refugee resettlement agencies in Washington state. Others include Diocese of Olympia Refugee Resettlement Office, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, International Rescue Committee and Jewish Family Service.


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