Paul Bass, NH Independent
[Excerpts from article at newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/munir_ahmed_afghanistan_family]
The latest news about desperate Afghans seeking to flee the Taliban isn’t an abstract story about strangers for Munir Ahmed. It’s about his parents and brothers. Ahmed, a civil engineer, resettled in New Haven in 2017 after escaping death threats in his native Khost, where he helped maintain a U.S. military airfield. He has rebuilt a successful life here.
Now that the U.S. military has fled Afghanistan and the Taliban has taken control of the country, he’s praying that his remaining family members, too, can get out. They were in the process of obtaining the same special immigration visa Ahmed had received when the Afghan government collapsed immediately upon the U.S. withdrawal.
Imagine “your country is collapsing in front of your eyes. People are shocked. People are despaired,” Ahmed said.
The local community is about to grow more once Afghan families do make it out of the country. Many of the new arrivals belong to an informal network. Like many, he has helped New Haven’s Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) to find jobs and housing for new arrivals.
Ten Afghan families have arrived in New Haven since mid-July, reported IRIS spokesperson Ann O’Brien. “We have been put on 24-hour notice to receive families.“
O’Brien was asked what help IRIS needs now from the community. Her answer: First and foremost, financial donations to help with that 24-hour response process for new arrivals. IRIS also anticipates increased food assistance needs while new arrivals wait for work permits.