Afghan refugees arrive in Vermont

Mayor David Allaire speaks to the Rutland Board of Aldermen on September 7, 2021 about the possibility of resettling Afghan refugees. Photo by Emma Cotton / VTDigger

Afghan refugees have begun arriving in Vermont.

A family arrived at a home in Montpelier on Thursday. They do not speak English, and their host sent a request for a Pashto English interpreter at the Front Porch Forum on Friday. He refused to be interviewed.

“We only started receiving a few within the last few weeks,” Tracy Dolan, director of the Vermont Refugee Office, told VTDigger.

Dolan said 35 people are expected to arrive within the next week.

She said military bases are a difficult environment for the refugees and therefore their transfer to communities across the country is being accelerated.

Dolan said the goal is to put people in permanent housing as soon as possible, but because so many are arriving at the same time, more are staying with host families until permanent housing can be arranged.

“We’ve had a real stream of people who have mostly been host families in the past, so they have some experience with this (and) have offered their home again, which is wonderful,” Dolan said.

Dolan said for the most part that the families are being resettled in Chittenden County.

The state and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants are also seeking to resettle people in Rutland.

Tracy said another group of Afghan refugees will be assigned to Brattleboro, where the Ethiopian Community Development Council is the resettlement agency. They are expected to arrive in mid-December.

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