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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: October 5, 2021
Updated Oct. 22, 2021
Catholic Charities of Arkansas (CCA) is resettling at least 49 Afghan refugees who began arriving in Little Rock in October. Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Sept 16 that nearly 100 Afghan refugees would be resettled in Arkansas with assistance from faith-based organizations and local sponsors as part of a national response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control in August. | How Afghan Refugees Get to Arkansas
CCA's Refugee Resettlement Office, with the help of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services, are resettling Afghan refugees in central Arkansas, and Canopy Northwest Arkansas, which is affiliated with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, are resettling Afghan refugees in northwest Arkansas. Since the governor's announcement in September, both organizations have been told to expect more refugees to relocate in the state.
Jennifer Verkamp-Ruthven, director of refugee resettlement, and Rebecca Bryant, refugee resettlement specialist, are serving as caseworkers in the resettlement process for CCA.
Verkamp-Ruthven told Arkansas Catholic that her office formed sponsor teams from the interfaith community to adopt families to help provide housing, furnishings, clothing and food. The U.S. State Department's Afghan Placement Assistance Program provides relocated Afghans 30 to 90 days of assistance and CCA is receiving some funding to assist refugees from the federal government through the USCCB, but monetary donations are still needed to cover the remaining expenses, which could include interpreters or housing. All donations go directly to serve the needs of Afghan refugees.
"We were told that the first groups of people to evacuate maybe had a little bit more time, and they might be coming with, like, maybe two sets of luggage," she said in an interview with Arkansas Catholic, "but the groups that have come in since then — that I think will be a lot of who we're going to resettle — pretty much have nothing. They had to go as fast as they could, so they won't have many belongings at all."
"As Christians, we are called to do all we can to help our brothers and sisters in their time of need," Bishop Anthony B. Taylor told Arkansas Catholic regarding the Afghan refugees. "Moreover, most of us are ourselves, the descendants of immigrants who came to this country in their time of need. Having been refugees here ourselves, at least in the person of our ancestors, we are all the more obligated to extend a welcome to immigrants today, and especially to refugees who often come here fleeing for their very lives."
Donate online through Catholic Charities of Arkansas. Select "Refugee Resettlement" in the drop down menu. You can make a one-time gift or a weekly, bimonthly or monthly donation. For more information, read Arkansas Catholic or call Larry Taylor, at Catholic Charities of Arkansas, at (501) 664-0340, ext. 352. To learn more about this crisis, visit the USCCB's Justice for Immigrants.