Northwest Arkansas prepares to accept Afghan refugees


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — In the wake of the U.S. military’s exit from Afghanistan, thousands of refugees were left without home countries. A Northwest Arkansas group plans to help refugees who come to this area.

Joanna Krause is the Executive Director for Canopy NWA. She said the organization expects to welcome Afghan refugees soon.

“We are preparing to welcome Afghan families,” Krause said. “We’ve been told to get ready, that they may arrive very soon, that we may have as little as 40 hours of notice before a family comes. So, we’re really looking to tap into our community.”

Krause said people can sign up to be co-sponsors: people who’ll assist these refugees for the first six months after their arrival. This includes housing, transportation and making baskets that include necessities.

Kevin Metcalf founded the National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF), a group that fights child trafficking across the world. The task force assisted several other groups in evacuating thousands of Afghan people, including 400-1000 children.

“Could you imagine being a parent willing to hand your baby over to a foreign military?” Metcalf asked.

The coalition of groups helped evacuate high-risk people in harm’s way under incoming Taliban control. This included the use of underground tunnels, encrypted chats and other under-the-table but necessary steps. Metcalf said the mission isn’t yet over even after the U.S. withdrawal.

“I can’t get into any specifics, but we still have encrypted chats going,” Metcalf said. “We’re still trying to get people out.”

Metcalf said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to temporarily house these evacuees in apartment-style housing. Other countries are now stepping in for permanency.

“We agreed to send 289 the other day to Albania, which is fine,” Metcalf said. “It’s families, so they’ll be able to watch over them.”

Metcalf’s biggest fear is that problematic countries may bring in these refugees, particularly children, who’ll be susceptible to trafficking or radicalization. Somalia is a country he mentioned. The only way to ensure their safety and America’s in future decades is to volunteer to accept the orphaned refugees, Metcalf said.

“The U.S. needs to step up and say we’ll take all of the kids,” Metcalf said.

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