OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Sooner State is welcoming the first wave of Afghan refugees.
In all, officials say more than 1,800 Afghan refugees will be making their way to Oklahoma.
“We’ve vetted all the folks and we’re excited to welcome them,” Gov. Kevin Stitt told the media earlier this month. “We’re excited to open up our arms…we’re excited to welcome them and show them the Oklahoma standard.”
On Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Oklahoma chapter and Catholic Charities welcomed the first group of Afghan refugees to the state.
“Families from Afghanistan have begun arriving in Oklahoma to start a new life. We are privileged to have Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City handling all resettlement for the state and acting on our behalf to care for these parents and children. Let us welcome these men and women who worked alongside our troops and show each family what Oklahoma is about,” Archbishop Paul Coakley said in a statement.
“It is an honor to work alongside our partners to serve these new neighbors as they settle in,” said CAIR-OK Civil Rights Director Veronica Laizure. “CAIR Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to help make sure that their transitions are smooth, compassionate, and welcoming, and we are happy to be a part of this historic effort and welcome our Afghan friends to the Oklahoma family.”
Officials say the refugees were provided welcome kits that included Islamic faith items, PPE, and essential hygiene items. They were also given clothing that had been donated by the community.
CAIR Oklahoma is continuing to collect donated items that will help the refugees as they transition to life in Oklahoma. Collected items include clothing, hygiene products, PPE supplies, school supplies, and winter items.
“Right now, we are focused on sorting out what we have and on meeting the immediate needs of these families as they arrive,” continued Laizure. “However, we do also anticipate needing the community to step up in other ways, including in the areas of housing, medical care, storage for donated furniture and housewares, education, counseling, and more. There will be many opportunities to get involved, so we encourage everyone to reach out to us and stay tuned to our social media accounts as we learn more.”
Catholic Charities is also accepting monetary donations to help with the refugees’ needs.
According to the United States citizenship and immigration services website, they have a seven step screening process for all refugees allowed into the country.