Ohio resettlement agencies asking for donations as they welcome Afghan refugees


CLEVELAND (WJW) — More than a month after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, several Northeast Ohio refugee resettlement agencies are preparing to welcome refugees to Cleveland in the next few days.

“In the next four days, we have 39 individuals that we will be bringing in, finding housing for and getting acclimated to Northeast Ohio,” said Darren Hamm, Cleveland field office director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).

He said USCRI was already preparing to assist 380 Afghan refugees prior to the fall of Kabul. Since then, the need for assistance grew.

“It’s very hard for us to envision having your life interrupted in a way that finds you removed from your physical environment, put in a new geography, not having the native language and a basic operation of how the systems work,” said Hamm.

According to the office of Gov. Mike DeWine, 850 Afghan individuals are scheduled to arrive in Ohio over the next several months.

It’s why Hamm said help is urgently needed in the form of financial donations and household goods that are being collected to ease evacuees’ transition to Cleveland.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland is also holding a donation drive Sunday, Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their building parking lot on Science Park Drive in Beachwood. The organization says they are in need of school and household supplies.

They are working with the Cleveland resettlement agency US Together, scheduled to assist more than 80 Afghan refugees.

“We’re really all in this together. Anything that we can do to help our fellow man, the Jewish community here in Cleveland is here to do that,” said Nancy Zimmerman, a volunteer with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

The International Institute of Akron is also aiding in the effort to welcome refugees to Summit County. It is scheduled to support the resettlement of 150 refugees from Afghanistan.

“You’re dealing with people that have really been through a lot,” said Kevin Walter, advocacy and community outreach coordinator of the International Institute of Akron. “It all happened really quickly. They’re really starting from scratch, so being welcoming, being friendly, being helpful just really helps to ease their transition during a difficult time.”

Walter said donations of household items are currently paused after a recent amazing outpouring of support from the community. However, monetary donations are still be accepted.

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