US Together, one of the largest resettlement organizations in Ohio, held its annual fundraiser event on August 26 at the South Drive-In Theater to celebrate the diversity of the community while adhering to social distancing.
The organization was founded in 2003 with an aim to assist refugees and immigrants settle in “through education, advocacy, support services, information, referrals, and networking opportunities in order to strengthen the community that we live in and to promote international understanding through intercultural exchange,” according to their website.
The event marked its 47th Annual International Taste of Columbus with many activities to help educate its local community on migration and refugees. Approximately 100 people attended the event to express their support for the refugee, immigrant and asylum-seekers in the community as well as those fleeing from Afghanistan.
Along with its theme, the organizers invited a local Mexican food truck to serve dinner for their guests and supporters. Dos Hermanos food truck offers authentic Mexican food and is owned by first-time entrepreneurs Lisa and Vicente Gutierrez, according to a statement from US Together.
The organization premiered its first short original film that portrayed the experiences of an asylum-seeker from Rwanda and highlighted their accomplishments. Following the short film, supporters watched the 2014 movie, The Good Lie, which focused on the experiences of several South Sudanese refugees resettlement.
As the refugee crisis in Afghanistan continues, the organization hopes to help more Afghans resettle in Ohio.
"Our organization is scaling up our capacity to prepare to resettle refugees, SAVs, and immigrants from Afghanistan," co-founder and director of US Together Columbus Nadia Kasvin told a local ABC outlet.
More than 30 Afghan refugees have arrived in Ohio on August 25 and efforts are being made to bring in more, according to a local Cleveland news.
Fortunately, Gov. Mike Dewine recently told WCBE radio station that the state is working on bringing more individuals from Afghanistan. They are expected to host hundreds of refugees, if not thousands.
"These are individuals who have helped us, who have taken risks to help the United States of America and we should welcome them to this country and we certainly welcome them to Ohio," says DeWine.
The state has shown significant progress in their policy on accepting refugees since 2015. The Ohio House passed a resolution addressed to the federal government to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees who were impacted by the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015.
Cleveland is listed as one of the cities for refugees applying for special immigrant visas, and Akron is expecting to help settle 500 people from Afghanistan. Columbus is also hoping to host some refugee families, according to WCBE radio station.
As much as the communities in Ohio are putting efforts in welcoming Afghan refugees, more volunteers and help are needed. The contact information for each of the resettlement organizations is provided below:
· Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services Phone: (216) 939-3737
· USCRI – Cleveland Phone: (216) 781-4560 Email: email@example.com
· US Together Phone: (216) 456-9630
UNHCR estimates that 550,000 people had been forced to flee their homes this year due to conflict. In total, 3.5 million Afghans are internally displaced within the country, according to BBC.
Neighboring countries took in refugees and it is estimated that Pakistan accepted about 1.5 million Afghans, followed by Iran and Germany. Although international efforts are being made to help those in need and local activist groups in the U.S. are demanding more actions.
The Biden administration has released a statement authorising $500 million for “unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs of refugees,” but has not stated the number of refugees they will accept yet.
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