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Ohio News

Columbus Could Receive More Afghan Refugees

U.S. soldiers stand guard along the perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul's airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others.
U.S. soldiers stand guard along the perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul's airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others.

With demand increasing, Columbus has been added to a list of cities that could soon become home to more refugees from Afghanistan.

With the collapse of the Afghan government and Taliban taking control, a Central Ohio organization that has helped many Afghans resettle responds.

The Community Refugee & Immigrations Services or CRIS has helped about 80 Afghans find housing in Columbus in the past five years.

CRIS's executive director Angela Plummer said there are currently 19 cites that new refugees can choose to move to, and Columbus in the past few days has been added to a proposed list of an additional 17 cities. She said it is currently unclear when the State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration will announce if Columbus makes the cut.

Plummer said many of the Afghans that CRIS helps have worked alongside members of the U.S. military, typically as interpreters.

“These are people who worked alongside our military, are friends with our men and women who served, who furthered the U.S. mission and can’t be abandoned," she said. "I mean, it would be just so morally bankrupt to leave there now and leave them behind.”

Advocates have been demanding for a long time that the U.S. government prepare for a smoother transition for refugees than took place in the past week, she said.

“I hope our government will be focused on assuring those that are in danger can get out and do whatever we can to get them out and treat them as humanely as possible and move them on to a final destination where they can rebuild their lives,” Plummer said.

CRIS is now coordinating with additional Afghans to come to Columbus but with the current chaos in the country, Plummer said departures are on hold.

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