BALTIMORE (WDVM) — Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have made their way to the United States in recent weeks as evacuation efforts continue and the Taliban gain ground in the Middle East. One Maryland-based organization says it’s prepared to help some of them resettle in our backyard.
Krish O’Mara Vignaraha of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in Baltimore says she and her team are ready to aid in mass resettlement efforts here in the DMV region, as it’s expected to be one of the largest resettlement regions for these refugees.
“Understandably, these families want to connect into a community that exists already. The historical footprint of having a lot of families resettle in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland means it’ll continue to be a magnet for the new arrivals,” said O’Mara Vignaraha during a press conference at LIRS headquarters on Wednesday.
They’re asking for donations of just about anything you can think of. Most importantly, LIRS says donations of Halal food, clothing, household necessities, and gift cards are critical. The LIRS team is also working to set up temporary and permanent housing for refugees resettling in the DMV, too.
The push for donations started Wednesday morning, and by the afternoon, Baltimoreans had already started dropping off necessities.
“I’m moving so it’s a good way to donate instead of putting it in the trash. I’m making sure it gets to someone who actually needs it,” said Keara Sullivan, a Baltimore resident who saw the LIRS donation table while she was out for a walk and decided to come back with a bag of household essentials.
When it comes to setting evacuees up for long-term success, LIRS is going for what it calls the long welcome, as O’Mara Vignaraha explained, “We’re going to need employers who are willing to hire refugees so they can take the first steps to self-sufficiency. We’ll need English translators who can help people navigate life in a new language.”
LIRS is accepting in-person donations outside of their headquarters at 700 Light Street in Baltimore every weekday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through September 3. To learn more or make a monetary donation, click here.