Right now, thousands of Afghans fleeing the Taliban are camped out at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia, while a handful of local nonprofits scramble to locate permanent housing for every family who is eligible for resettlement in the Washington region. Many refugees left home in a hurry, with scarce money and no English proficiency. Some have multiple young children or require medical attention. Many thousands lack even the basic benefits granted to holders of Special Immigrant Visas, the designation reserved for Afghans who worked for the U.S. government during the 20-year war. And now, those who wish to stay here must navigate one of the country’s most expensive housing markets.
The actions taken by the United States to expel Haitians before they have the opportunity to seek asylum betray our country’s origins as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge and protection and are a violation of our commitment to allow persons to seek asylum as defined in the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol of which the United States is a signatory.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to a social services organization that’s facing a financial funding gap in the effort to resettle refugees arriving from Afghanistan. The Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund (UJEF) is partnering with Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area (LSSNCA) by providing $650,000 in financial support.
When the Taliban completed its take over of the country, Governor Hogan announced the state is “ready and willing” to take more Afghan refugees.
“When America began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, I made clear that Maryland was ready and willing to welcome these Afghan allies,” said Governor Hogan. “Many of these Afghan citizens bravely risked their lives to provide invaluable support to our efforts as interpreters and support staff, and we have a moral obligation to help them.”
After the Biden administration finished one of the largest airlifts in the nation's history Aug. 30, organizations tasked with helping Afghans arriving in the U.S. are scrambling to ramp up operations following years of downsizing due to the Trump administration's slashed refugee program.
As of August 23, Lutheran Social Services said it has worked to resettle more than 250 Afghans in the U.S., and it expects a "steady and increasing" number of referrals in coming weeks. Autumn Kendrick, a spokesperson for the nonprofit, said "the extraordinary help of the community" has made it possible to accommodate the recent influx of refugees... We're very humbled to be a part of this historic welcome and be able to provide housing, transportation and other basic needs to these new neighbors that are so overjoyed to be here and to have that safety and security that they haven't had before," Kendrick told CBS News. "We've seen an emotionally overwhelming amount of community support and that's so great to see."
As the Pentagon rushed to fly Americans out of Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal deadline last month, the U.S. military also evacuated tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom worked with American and allied troops during the conflict. So far, more than 20,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in the United States, where a number of organizations are helping them begin the resettlement process. To learn more, we called Kristyn Peck. She is the CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, a nonprofit that helps newly arrived refugees in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Kristyn Peck, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
The Dulles Expo Center outside Washington, D.C., is usually reserved for home and garden or gun shows. Now the cavernous center hosts thousands of Afghan refugees. It's wall to wall with cots and now includes a medical center and cafeteria — serving halal food — for the steady stream of people.
For many Americans, it’s difficult to imagine what the tens of thousands of newly arrived Afghan refugees are going through. But Arshad Mehmood doesn’t have to imagine. He knows. Only seven years ago, Mr. Mehmood was in their shoes, fleeing Pakistan. He describes being kidnapped and tortured by the Taliban for being a local politician. Now, as the regional coordinator for a national nonprofit, Mr. Mehmood as well as his team in northern Virginia, many of whom are refugees themselves, is helping these new arrivals with everything from finding apartments to translating school enrollment forms from English to Pashto.
Dozens of volunteers pitched in to help fully furnish an Arlington apartment for an Afghan refugee family of six. The family arrived on the last flight out of Kabul before it fell to the Taliban.
Volunteers from Lutheran Social Services and Old Town Books helped the family resettle by fully furnishing their apartment, stocking it with groceries, basic needs and providing a warm welcome.
“We are devastated by the abhorrent attacks that have rattled Kabul as U.S. citizens and Afghan Allies attempt to evacuate. As we mourn the victims of this senseless attack, we also keep lift their families, and Americans and Afghan Allies still in Afghanistan in our hearts and prayers.”
A local family is spending the week making jewelry to sell in an effort to raise money for Afghan refugees. Their jewelry sale raised over $1,200 and the proceeds will go to LSSNCA!
The DC region is a key hub for Afghan refugees resettling in the United States on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). With a critical influx of new refugees fleeing Taliban rule in Afghanistan, The Jewish Federation’s United Jewish Endowment Fund (UJEF) has partnered with Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area (LSSNCA), a key leader of resettlement efforts, to further this urgent work, granting more than $350,000 to LSSNCA.
“We are so grateful to be able to be on the front lines of this response. This is why we do our work,” Kristyn Peck, LSSNCA CEO said. “This is why we're here, but it has taken a community effort.
The federal government, nonprofits, media organizations and private contractors are still trying to get people out of Afghanistan and away from the threat of Taliban retaliation for assisting Americans during 20 years of war.
If they can get out, many are eligible for Special Immigrant Visas to live in the U.S. That means there are efforts to find housing for these people in a hurry. For some context, consider Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, which helps resettle refugees and people coming in on Special Immigration Visas. Last year, it served about 500 people, mostly Afghan SIVs.
Many Afghans being evacuated from the country after its takeover by the Taliban will end up living in the D.C. area, and there are several ways to help them.
Kristyn Peck, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, told WTOP that her agency needs cash donations to help refugees rent homes, get hotel rooms and for transportation.
The refugees, who were flown into Fort Lee, an Army base near Petersburg, Virginia, will be living in one of Lutheran Social Services’ three resettlement sites in Maryland’s Hyattsville or in Fairfax or Dale City in Virginia.
The 30-year-old father, who moved to Virginia in 2016, has been under constant worry as he encourages his family in Kabul to continually switch locations since the Taliban swiftly took over Afghanistan. With only two bags, his wife and son, Noori established a life in Virginia with the help of his supervisor and the resettlement benefits provided by the SIV program. He became a job and employment specialist for the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) by 2019 as a way to use his skills in interpreting and helping fellow allies who were in his position.
Anderson Cooper 360: Refugees who lived their entire lives in Afghanistan are arriving in the US after fleeing the Taliban. One such refugee, 30-year-old Tamana, who was welcomed by LSSNCA tells Gary Tuchman she felt she was dreaming when she finally touched down in the Washington DC area.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area was already planning to help resettle a lot of Afghan people who’d worked alongside the US military and US government in Iraq before next month, but the fall of Kabul has added extra urgency. “We’ve had about 115 arrivals already. I think we’re expecting another 150″ at the moment, says Kristyn Peck, the group’s CEO. “It’s changing every minute.”
Refugee resettlement organizations in the DMV are working to find more volunteers, donations and any other form of assistance as more Afghan allies are expected to land in the U.S. About 2,000 people have already been relocated under the "Operation Allies Refuge" within the last few weeks after President Joe Biden announced removing troops from Afghanistan by September. They are in the process of completing the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program which provides a legal path to safety after helping the U.S. government during the 20-year war.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) welcomes an influx of Afghan Allies as a result of the Biden Administration’s evacuation of 2,500 individuals by September 11. Afghan allies and their families began arriving at Fort Lee, located outside of Richmond, VA, on July 30.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) welcomes the news from President Biden on July 8 that efforts are underway to safely evacuate Afghan allies prior to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on September 11.
“For many, evacuation is a matter of life and death, said Kristyn Peck, CEO of LSSNCA. “The devil is in the details, and we are waiting for those details to include eligibility requirements and a timeline. Timing is crucial as friends and heroes to the U.S. mission are being left behind in harm’s way,” she said.
Immigrants often need help adjusting to their new lives in America, especially if they are survivors of human trafficking or are seeking asylum from war-torn countries. Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area CEO Kristyn Peck explains to iHeart's Bernie Lucas what her organization does to help.
Our CEO, Kristyn Peck, shares the vulnerabilities of refugees and immigrants to human trafficking on the Truckers Against Trafficking podcast. This episode is for anyone wanting to learn more about indicators of trafficking and what to do if you suspect trafficking -- you do not need to be a trucker to listen or to get something out of it! Report suspected trafficking by calling the National Human Trafficking hotline here: 1-888-373-7888. LSSNCA is grateful for its new partnership with U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to provide services to foreign national survivors of human trafficking in the DMV.