The Center prepared for potential Afghan refugees


UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — As the world watches the situation in Afghanistan unfold, The Center here in Utica is thinking about how this may impact central New York. The Center says they have no information on if or when the United States government will send refugees from Afghanistan to Utica, but they’re ready to help if they do.

“This is what we do,” said Shelly Callahan, the Center’s executive director. “We’re ready to receive folks. I look forward to really being able to do our part,” she said.

As an organization that has helped resettle over 16,500 refugees and is staffed by many refugees themselves, Callahan says watching the footage coming out of Afghanistan has been traumatizing.

“This whole thing is just horrifying. I have to believe that there was a better way to kind of step down, but now that it’s happened we have to save the people that we made commitments to, not just because it’s absolutely the morally right thing to do, but also if we’re going to be trusted going forward when we make alliances in other places you have to take care of the people that agreed to work with you and that you made a commitment to.”

The Center usually has at least two week’s notice before a refugee arrives, but in a rapidly developing situation like this, they anticipate only having one or two days to prepare.

“I have no doubt that the local community will step up, and folks have already come forward and said that they would like to do whatever they can to help, and so if we start to receive folks we’ll probably be asking for the community to help a little bit,” Callahan explained.

“For now, they say to reach out to people you may know from that part of the world, stay informed, donate to refugee groups if you can, and reach out to elected officials to say you support helping refugees.

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