Former US presidents, religious leaders launch organization to aid Afghan evacuees

by Msnbctv news staff

(RNS) — Three former presidents and first girls have joined with spiritual leaders, faith-based refugee resettlement businesses and others to help a brand new nationwide group with the objective of creating it simpler to assist Afghan evacuees arriving in the US.

RELATED: Learn how to assist Afghans arriving within the US after fleeing the Taliban

Welcome.US launched Tuesday (Sept. 14) to offer a single level of entry for People to donate to frontline organizations, host arriving households by means of Airbnb and discover different methods to assist Afghans as they rebuild their lives within the U.S. after fleeing the Taliban.

“We all know that doing the work of creating our new neighbors welcome is the start line for the numerous methods through which their presence will enrich us all,” Cecilia Muñoz, co-chair of Welcome.US, stated throughout a digital information convention Tuesday morning.

“That is what we do after we’re at our greatest, and we’re proud to have developed an strategy to assist People do that work collectively.”

Muñoz, who was director of the White Home Home Coverage Council underneath former President Barack Obama, is chairing the group alongside John Bridgeland, who directed the council underneath former President George W. Bush.

Obama, Bush and former President Invoice Clinton — together with former first girls Michelle Obama and Laura Bush and former first woman and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — are also serving as honorary co-chairs “to raise up everybody else concerned and remind us that that is our alternative, in a time of all an excessive amount of division, for frequent objective,” in response to the Welcome.US web site.

Folks evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, wait to board a bus after they arrived at Washington Dulles Worldwide Airport, in Chantilly, Virginia, on Aug. 25, 2021. (AP Photograph/Jose Luis Magana)

They’re joined by leaders from a number of faith-based refugee resettlement teams, which type the spine of the U.S. refugee resettlement program. These teams have been working independently to fulfill the wants of Afghans arriving with Particular Immigrant Visas or on humanitarian parole because the U.S. withdrew troops from Afghanistan final month.

Amongst these leaders are Invoice Canny, head of the U.S. Convention of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Companies workplace; Erol Kekic, senior vp at Church World Service; Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Companies; Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; and Jenny Yang, senior vp of advocacy and coverage at World Reduction.

Since 2009, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has supported about 10,000 Afghans by means of the SIV program with housing, employment help, medical help, cultural orientation and different resettlement companies, Vignarajah stated through the digital information convention. The group has seen a “super outpouring of help” in current weeks, she stated, with greater than 45,000 folks signing as much as volunteer.

People are searching for methods to assist, she added.

“People throughout the nation and throughout the political spectrum … are desperate to welcome Afghan allies and refugees as their latest neighbors. So many people, communities and congregations have a deeply private connection to this historic effort, and they’re opening their houses, actually and figuratively, as soon as once more for Afghans in want,” Vignarajah stated.

Bilal Askaryar. Photo via Welcome.US

Bilal Askaryar. Photograph through Welcome.US

Bilal Askaryar, an Afghan American activist who beforehand labored for Church World Service, shared his household’s story of coming to the U.S. as asylum-seekers within the Nineteen Nineties after Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan. He remembers the first-grade trainer who made him really feel welcome and helped him be taught English.

Askaryar sees numerous parallels between his experiences and the tales of Afghans now coming to the U.S., he stated.

“However there’s one vital distinction between once I was a child and at present: I’m heartened to see the Welcome.US marketing campaign carry collectively … a complete of presidency strategy, volunteer businesses, companies and refugee businesses — so many sensible individuals who have come along with a standard objective of welcoming our new Afghan neighbors with dignity and compassion,” he stated.

Welcome.US additionally lists a various group of spiritual leaders as a part of its Welcome Council.

Amongst them are Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church; distinguished New Age creator and different medication guru Deepak Chopra; the Rev. Cynthia Hale of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Georgia; Walter Kim, head of the Nationwide Affiliation of Evangelicals; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York Metropolis; Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Space Muslim Society (ADAMS) Heart in Virginia, former head of the Islamic Society of North America; Rabbi Jack Moline, head of the Interfaith Alliance; the Rev. Gabe Salguero, head of the Nationwide Latino Evangelical Coalition; Rabbi David Saperstein, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for worldwide spiritual freedom; and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey.

RELATED: Protected within the US, Afghan evacuees flip their consideration to the households they left behind

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