St. Louis expects up to 100 Afghan refugees per week through end of year

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – After months of waiting, Afghanistan refugees are beginning to arrive in St. Louis.

The Post-Dispatch caught up with a couple along with their son and six daughters as they arrived at Lambert Airport. They were among roughly 35 refugees expected to arrive Tuesday.

The International Institute of St. Louis (IISTL) said about 125 refugees arrived in St. Louis before this week. The group expects 50 to 100 refugees will land at Lambert each week through the end of the year.

The United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan in late August. The Taliban, a militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s, has again taken control.

IISTL has been working with St. Louis leaders and officials to welcome the refugees.

“We were thrilled to have the support of our elected officials,” IISTL CEO Arrey Obenson said.

He said since 2018, St. Louis has already welcomed 296 Afghans with Special Immigrant VISA’s. He said already having an Afghan community can draw in more refugeed to the Gateway City. 

“There is an existing Afghan community here, which is one of the benefits and one of the reasons we will attract Afghans because there is an existing community,” he said.

When a refugee comes to St. Louis, the IISTL is ready to provide them with the tools they need in a new country including, “housing, it includes furnishing those houses, it includes job opportunities, so working with employers locally to provide jobs,” Obenson said.

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