In the days following the collapse of the Afghan government and the mass exodus of Americans and Afghans allied to the United States, World Relief Durham is preparing to welcome an influx of refugees in the weeks to come.

The group works with Afghan refugees when they select or are assigned Raleigh and Durham as resettlement options under the US State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa Program.

“It’s painful to watch,” said Adam Clark, director of World Relief Durham. “We have all seen very frightening images of people getting on planes and trying to escape cities in long lines of cars. It is certainly an unusual situation, an exceptional set of circumstances where evacuation is really necessary. “

Clark said the situation is generally different in that the arrival of a refugee takes much longer than what the nation is currently experiencing. His organization is preparing to welcome more refugees arriving in the coming weeks, but has not been shy about predicting how many.

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“We are preparing locally to receive some of these families that you hear about,” Clark said. “We have already received some and we will receive other families – welcoming them here in the Triangle.”

Under the US State Department’s SIV Program for Afghans and Iraqis, applicants have a choice of 25 cities or are designated as resettlement options. Among these options are Durham and Raleigh.

World Relief Durham provides refugees with housing, furniture and educates them about the culture of the Triangle and the United States. Clark said it was his duty that America live up to its end of the bargain by taking care of the Afghans who have aided the United States against the Taliban for the past 20 years.

“(The Afghans) cannot afford to wait for days. They have to be evacuated quickly,” Clark said. “So we urge everyone in the administration (Biden) who has the power to speed up the number of evacuees and the speed at which they are evacuated to do so. Because that’s what we got ourselves into. committed to doing as a nation. And it really is a matter of life and death for many of these families and allies who have helped us overseas. “

Clark said there is little that World Relief Durham can do due to delays in the SIV program.

“Our hands are tied here locally,” Clark said. “We cannot accelerate the rate at which people are brought here. We can just prepare. And we are thrilled! “

If you are interested in helping, World Relief Durham offers volunteer opportunities as well as other means to financially assist resettlement efforts.

“It’s very fresh. There is still time if you haven’t responded to do something about it,” Clark said. “Because it’s not just abroad. It’s in our community. It’s here in the Triangle. And in many cases, it is us. There are a lot of Afghans from North Carolina. . They have Afghan children in our schools, Afghan professionals in our companies. So the suffering we see on television is personal for us, it is personal for our community. And it’s important that North Carolina takes action and shows us by raising our voices and finding a way to welcome and stand up for those who are suffering right now. “

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