Nearly one month after the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal, many families are still seeking refuge across the globe. Here in the South Bay, local government officials have now approved a funding measure to help Afghan families further.
On Tuesday at the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meeting, supervisors approved the measure unanimously to find up to $750,000 in one-time funding to receive an estimated 300 Afghan families over the next 12 months. The funding — which will increase with annual contract increases from $185,000 to $250,000 for two local refugee service providers — will provide resettlement assistance that covers housing, food, employment, and transportation needs for newly arriving refugees.
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who represents six communities in District 4, presented the proposal with Supervisor Otto Lee of District 3. Ellenberg told the Board that the proposal and corresponding funding would provide a critical lifeline for arriving families, and extend support and care to the families during an extraordinarily traumatic and unsettling time.
"As a County, it has always been part of our core values to be a place of refuge for those in need and this is absolutely a moment when we can and should be reinforcing that mission," she said.
Lee — a retired U.S. Navy commander and served as the chief of Drawdown Material Policies in Iraq in 2009 — said the situation in Afghanistan all these years later is heart-wrenching to watch.
"Many of these refugees are Afghans who served the American military as translators,” he said. "During this time of crisis, we must step up and respond urgently to provide whatever assistance they need to seek safety for themselves and their families.”
The measure, approved Tuesday afternoon, would incorporate a partnership between the county and two refuge service providers, the Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley (JFS SV) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Currently in Santa Clara County, about 50,000 residents (or one out of every 40) are refugees who have relied on local resettlement services.
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