On September 14, 2021, representatives from Muslim Americans for Compassion and Kentucky Refugee Ministries hosted a conversation on issues facing Afghan immigrants with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). Since the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, several Afghan refugees have fled the country. According to an article published in the August 31, 2021, issue of The Courier Journal, Kentucky is preparing to settle as many as 775 Afghan evacuees. Under current projections, Louisville could get up to 350 people split between Catholic Charities and Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM). Lexington could get up to 125, Bowling Green could get as many as 200, and Owensboro as many as 100. According to John Koehlinger, executive Director of Kentucky Refugee Ministries, nationwide estimates run close to 75,000.

Much of the discussion focused on issues of how the large number of incoming refugees will receive necessary humanitarian aid in their transition to the United States. Many refugees who have arrived so far are being temporarily housed at military air bases before they are sent to various locations around the country. Koehlinger said that financial support/family sponsorship, donations of basic living essentials, as well as medical services and supplies are always helpful.

Maha Kolko, KRM Caseworker and Sponsorship Developer, added that even something as simple as greeting Afghan refugees upon arrival that the airport brings a sense of ease to an otherwise difficult situation.

Watch the discussion below.

Those interested in learning more about how to help resettle Afghan immigrants can call Kentucky Refugee Ministries at (502) 479-5180 or go online at https://kyrm.org/.