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Government & Politics

Akron Welcomes Afghan Refugee Family, Many More Could Follow

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The Taliban has seized control of Afghanistan causing thousands of refugees and special visa holders to flee to the United States.

With tens of thousands of Afghans expected to be resettled across the U.S. in the coming weeks, the International Institute of Akron is ready to welcome families to the area.

At least one family has already resettled in Akron. Several more could follow, but the timeline is uncertain.

Executive Director Madhu Sharma said the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has taken its toll on refugees fleeing the country.

“We’re going to be serving individuals with incredible PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and trauma,” Sharma said.

This includes special immigrant visa holders, or SIVs, who worked helping U.S. troops during the war.

“And we don’t really have a breakdown of the evacuees right now. In other words we don’t know how many are SIVs and how many are refugees.”

Sharma said they have already helped resettle one Afghan family since the Taliban seized control of the country, but the humanitarian crisis is making getting people out more difficult.

“There’s no go-between right now. It’s airlift, process at a military base in the U.S., and potentially not shortly after that, within months, arriving shortly to Akron.”

The International Institute has capacity to resettle more than 450 people in the next year from Afghanistan and other countries affected by conflict or natural disasters including Burma and Congo.