“Our work has only just begun” Port of Seattle, State and South Sound partners provide update on resettlement efforts in Afghanistan
As mid-February marks the end of the deadline set by the federal government to transition Afghan refugees to state resettlement services, local partners agreed this week that the work has only just begun for hundreds of families. recently arrived in our region.
The Port of Seattle, Washington State Department of Health and Social Services (DSHS), and South Sound business leaders provided an update on the successful efforts of Afghan refugee resettlement agencies, community organizations and private businesses that led to temporary housing, donated food and household items, and early connections to employment opportunities.
The partners also indicated that the successful resettlement of Afghan refugees in our community will require longer-term partnerships, particularly in housing. Officially, approximately 3,000 Afghan refugees have been officially resettled in Washington state in the past six months, with several hundred arriving in the past month alone.
A recording of the update can be viewed on the Port of Seattle Facebook page.
In her update, the Port of Seattle Commissioner announced that the Port is planning a job fair on March 29 near the airport to connect job seekers with the many opportunities available in related industries. at the port. Later this spring, the Port and industry partners will host a maritime-specific job fair at the Port’s Community Center in South Park. Further details of the employers attending and how job seekers can participate will be announced shortly.
“Every organization can play a role in creating an inclusive and welcoming community,” said Hamdi Mohamed, Seattle Port Commissioner. “At the Port, we relied on our customer service and economic development missions. We have created a reception center to facilitate the reception of refugees at the airport by resettlement officials. We have helped facilitate contacts between resettlement officials and local hotels that can help find temporary accommodation. And now we can better serve our community and customers by helping qualified job seekers find port-related jobs.
DSHS’ Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance coordinates Washington’s response to Operation Allies Welcome.
In its update, DSHS explained that from September 28, 2021 to last week (February 8), Washington hosted 2,579 people. To welcome all rescued Afghans, individuals and families can arrive in Washington through several different pathways, including the Afghanistan Placement and Assistance Program with refugee resettlement agencies, community and private sponsorship pathways, and Washington State’s Afghanistan Placement and Assistance Initiative coordinated by DSHS.
Some people may voluntarily leave military bases to relocate to Washington independently of an organization. Through the various pathways, approximately 3,000 people will arrive in local Washington communities by February 15, 2022.
“We are honored to welcome our Afghan brothers and sisters and recognize our crucial community partnerships that are helping Washington State navigate this important time,” said Jilma Meneses, Secretary, Washington State Department of Health and Human Services.
“Welcoming refugees is a collective effort. Thanks to the tireless work of our staff and community partners in the effort to welcome Afghan arrivals – including everyone at the Port of Seattle, the team at Hilton Worldwide, South Seattle and South Sound Chamber of Commerce – our new neighbors are on their way to rebuilding their lives,” said Sarah Peterson, Chief, Office of Refugees and Immigrants.
“The thousands of women and men who make up our diverse hospitality community are thrilled to offer a safe and warm welcome to Afghan families coming to our region,” said Seattle Regional Tourism Authority Southside Mark Everton.
“These are our allies and their families, people who have supported the United States in Afghanistan for the past 20 years. They stood with the United States and our soldiers when the United States needed them most, even at great risk to themselves and their families. Now is the time for the United States to support them and for us to welcome and support them,” said Ghulam Mohmand of the Afghan American Cultural Association.
“For 103 years, Hilton hotels have been committed to being the light and warmth of hospitality that brings people together around the world. Our team therefore provides a warm welcome, shelter and the starting point to create memories as our Afghan friends settle into our great community,” said Jon McFarland, Hilton/Doubletree Airport Representative.
“Our members and local businesses have stepped up to provide resources such as short and long term housing, education and job placement assistance, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, mental health, recreation, etc. This is an example of what I call “opportunity multipliers”. We are literally multiplying opportunities for the greater benefit of our local business community and ensuring that newly arrived Afghan refugees get a safe start in their American lives,” said Andrea Reay, President and CEO of the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce.
Perry Cooper | SEA Airport Press Officer
(206) 787-4923 | [email protected]