As Afghans face a change in their government and an urgent humanitarian crisis, many have fled to build new lives in the United States or around the world. The International Rescue Committee alone expects to welcome thousands of Afghans this year. In part because of the crisis, we resettled more people from September to November 2021 than we welcomed for the entirety of 2020.
Luckily, we have also seen a groundswell of support for resettling refugees, with a record number of people reaching out to get involved. There are many ways people can get involved. As always, if you're located near one of the IRC's 25 offices around the United States, you can help resettle Afghan families by volunteering, donating or otherwise supporting local efforts.
Now, we’re excited to announce that even groups not located near one of the IRC's 25 offices around the United States can support refugee families directly by serving as a Community Partner.
To be an Afghan Placement and Assistance (APA) Community Partner, you must be an established organization, such as a business, university community, faith group, sports team or local club. If you become a partner, your group works alongside the IRC to welcome refugees to your community. Individuals or informal groups may not serve as APA Program community partners.
Becoming an APA Community Partner is a direct way to support the resettlement of vulnerable Afghan families. Your group will take on responsibilities for resettlement such as securing housing, greeting and welcoming families, providing food and other basic necessities, and connecting refugees to schooling, English classes and employment (a more comprehensive list of responsibilities is below).
Here are the details:
As an organization you are taking on the responsibility of fulfilling the requirements of the Afghan Placement and Assistance program and are agreeing to take the lead in supporting these new arrivals to your community. Families will be assigned to your organization by IRC headquarters in collaboration with you as the community partner. While the IRC will provide technical assistance and training, your group will be coordinating and problem solving on the ground to provide for the unique needs of each arriving case. This partnership will exist for the duration of the APA program, which is 90 days.
Services community partners provide:
- Secure a safe, sanitary, and affordable housing unit for the family that is available for at least 6-12 months.
- Ensure housing is equipped with appropriate household items.
- Greet and welcome the family at the airport.
- Provide food and items for basic needs.
- Connect adults to English class and employment services.
- Enroll minors in school.
- Connect to cultural orientation and integration services.
- Enroll the family in benefits.
- Connect to employment services.
- Medical follow up and transportation.
- Write up case notes and case file documentation.
- Assure interpretation services in the client’s native language.
The IRC's role:
The IRC will work with the APA Community Partner to provide technical assistance and training. The IRC will support the group to ensure all APA services are completed accurately and timely for the case. IRC staff will maintain regular contact with the Community Partner and refugee families to assist with any needs that may arise.
Steps to becoming an Afghan Placement and Assistance community Partner:
- Complete a 2-page application form to be reviewed and approved by the Department of State.
- Sign a formal agreement with IRC to be an APA Community Partner.
- Receive training on how to be an APA Community Partner.
- Pass an IRC background check for each member of the group.
- Partake in weekly check-in session with IRC.
If your group is interested in applying, please email Una.Bilic [at] rescue.org (subject: APA%20Community%20Partner) to learn more and receive the application, or join us for an upcoming info session.