Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas Assists with Afghanistan Humanitarian Crisis

Above: Residents of an Afghanistan apartment complex. Image courtesy of the United Nations.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asked Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas to participate in the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Evacuation Project alongside of other Catholic Charities agencies and community partners. The plan was to transport Afghan refugees to Fort Lee military base in Virginia, where they would undergo medical exams and adjustment of status/visa issuance.

Catholic Charities’ agencies and other community partners would assist by:

  • Processing and adjustment of status assistance
  • Interviewing Afghan SIV applicants
  • Development and provision of youth activities
  • International Office on Migration (IOM) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) staff support
  • Administrative support

Since that effort was launched, a widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has unfolded. Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

“We have known that the withdrawal of American forces and evacuation of vulnerable Afghans, including those who supported our military or worked with NGOs and other organizations, would be a complicated process that had the potential for instability in Afghanistan. The images and videos coming out of the country are difficult to view, as people make life or death decisions in desperation. We are particularly concerned for all those requiring evacuation, as well as Afghan women and girls, who risk losing opportunities gained over the last two decades and now face potential mistreatment.

“For the past few weeks, staff from the USCCB, Catholic Charities, and other partners have been at Fort Lee in Virginia, assisting the U.S. government in the welcoming and resettlement of SIV applicants and their families. We will continue that work as long as necessary until those who are in harm’s way are brought to safety.”

Will Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas resettle these Afghan SIVs and their families?

The U.S. government’s goal is to relocate as many as 30,000 SIV applicants. As a refugee resettlement agency, it is possible that Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas will welcome some of these Afghans if they have a “U.S. tie” on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area. They are generally placed with a resettlement agency that is within 50 miles of their “U.S. tie.” Since plans for evacuation are still being developed for those remaining in Afghanistan, a timeline has not been established as to when our agency might start resettling these families.

What is a “U.S. tie”?

A “U.S. tie” can be family or friends. In the case of SIVs, it could also be a member of the U.S. military. Refugees, or SIVs, are generally placed with a resettlement agency that is within 50 miles of the “U.S. tie.”

Will the Afghan SIVs undergo COVID testing?

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), there will be a requirement for proof of a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the U.S. consistent with the CDC Global Travel Order. Applicants will receive a PCR COVID-19 test within 3 days of their flight departure to the United States. Applicants are required to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry into the United States. Applicants will also be COVID-19 tested within one day of their arrival to Fort Lee. Also consistent with the CDC recommendations for international travel post arrival, applicants will receive a COVID-19 test within 3-5 days post arrival, if they are still located at Fort Lee. Once they reach their final destination, Afghan refugees are required to quarantine for 10 days.

How can the community help refugees served by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas?

Locally, people can welcome the Afghans by donating housing supplies for newly arrived refugee families; consider sponsoring a family who has fled this situation and helping them with their Integration to their new home; and praying that those left behind are given the amnesty needed so that they may seek safety. 

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, reminds us, “The Catholic Church teaches that each person is created in the image and likeness of God and that we must uphold the inherent dignity of every person. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has emphasized welcoming the newcomer, saying it is ‘an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her. It is an invitation which offers the opportunity to draw near to the other and see where and how he or she lives’.” 

For a list of needed items which can be donated to refugees, click here.

To schedule the drop-off of donated items, email: refugees@catholiccharitiesks.org

To make a financial donation, click here.

About Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas’ refugee resettlement program

After the USCCB implemented a Southeast Asia refugee resettlement program in response to the Indochina refugee crisis, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas officially joined the humanitarian effort in 1975. Our agency began assisting the South Vietnamese who were fleeing their country out of fear of persecution or execution following the Vietnam War.

Today, Catholic Charities is one of the largest resettlement sites in Kansas, with most refugees coming from Southeast Asia’s Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Our Refugee Resettlement Services offer programs and services designed to provide social and emotional support to refugees including English language classes, citizenship preparation, case management, employment support and more. Our New Roots for Refugees training program helps refugees utilize their agricultural skills to develop their own farming businesses.  In addition, professional Immigration legal services are offered to low-Income, foreign-born Individuals and their families through our La Luz Immigration Clinic.

Above: A refugee family from Southeast Asia settling into their new home. Like many of the families served by our Refugee Resettlement Services, this family received social and emotional support from Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas.

Support Our Work

Please use the form below if you would like to make a donation to support our work.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn