As the crisis in Afghanistan continues to unfold, Edmonton and Calgary are now welcoming people who were able to escape the Taliban.
This is just the beginning, with thousands of refugees expected to call Alberta home in the coming months.
“So far, we have 80 of them in Alberta: 60 in Calgary, 20 of them in Edmonton. We’re waiting for more to come, and these are actually the people coming after their two – week quarantine from Toronto, said Calgary General Manager of Social Services Fariborz Birjandian.
Catholic social service agencies in the province are contracted to house government-assisted refugee families as they move into their new home.
Edmonton community groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees
“Usually, we keep them for 15 to 21 days to go through the orientation to get to know the city, their documentation, health and school issues and then they are transferred to permanent accommodation,” Birjandian said.
In the coming months, Birjandian said approximately 5,000 refugees are expected to move not only to Edmonton and Calgary, but also to Red Deer, Brooks, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.
But as they arrive, major welcome holidays at airports, such as when Syrian refugees arrived in Canada are not expected or planned.
“They are separated from their homeland, they are leaving the people they love behind, they are obviously very worried about what is happening. So we try and keep the information fairly close to where they are, “said Eoin Murray, director of development and community relations at Edmonton Catholic Services.
Global News spoke with refugees who supported the Canadian military or government and are now trying to adjust to life in Alberta, but they say so far, it is not easy.
Afghan refugees to arrive in Canada in ‘days or weeks’ as federations help 145 flee to Pakistan
They still fear for the safety of family members in Afghanistan, so Global News has agreed to hide their identities.
“We are happy here, but we still can not say we are completely happy because we are concerned about our country, our relatives and the people returning home,” said a recent refugee who arrived in Calgary.
“The feeling was mixed of happiness and sadness, but we like to be here,” said another refugee who arrived in Calgary.
As more refugees arrive, organizations like the Islamic Family and Social Services Association will sponsor and support refugees.
It will also work to help bring trapped loved ones abroad.
“The work we do is long-term. “When someone comes down, it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Omar Yaqub with the Islamic Association of Family and Social Services.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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