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Safety and sadness: Afghan refugees observe their first Ramadan in the US

Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Religious News

Cotton's staff, Hannigan said, set up Maqsoud's contact at the Kabul airport so he could leave the country. Within days of his family's departure, twin bombs struck near the airport entrance. About 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members were killed.

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It was Hannigan who picked up Maqsoud's family at the airport in San Diego when they arrived in January. Maqsoud had chosen to resettle in the city because of his Marine friend.

Maqsoud is one of 2,145 Afghan refugees who have arrived in San Diego County through February. The majority who resettled in the area have a relative or friend there.

In a letter to President Biden last month, San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson requested assistance from the administration to help the county resettle Afghan refugees and prepare to potentially receive more refugees, this time from Ukraine.

"The citizens of San Diego are once again willing to welcome the displaced with open arms," Anderson wrote. "However, to do so successfully will require additional funding from the Administration to support this population."

 

Etleva Bejko, director of refugee and immigration services for Jewish Family Service of San Diego, said the biggest challenge for resettlement agencies has been finding housing for refugees.

"There has been a shortage of rental units available," Bejko said. "It's not an Afghan evacuee issue; it's not a refugee issue; it's a California issue."

The lack of housing presents additional challenges, Bejko said, including school enrollment and access to other services, such as English-as-a-second-language classes.

Farid Obaid, whose family is temporarily living in a Del Mar hotel, said his children were getting rides to school thanks to nearby church parishioners. There were no buses set up to take them. They don't have the money to buy a car.

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