MISSOULA — The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Missoula has helped hundreds of people in dangerous and desperate situations resettle here in the last few years and that will soon be the case with Afghan refugees
“Imagine arriving to this country coming from a place where almost always there's going to be some sort of trauma,” said Eamon Fahey, International Rescue Committee deputy director.
A refugee is defined as someone who flees their homeland in fear of persecution, according to Eamon Fahey, deputy director of the International Rescue Committee in Missoula. Western Montana has welcomed nine Afghan refugees, who are a part of the federal government's Special Immigration Visa (SIV) program.
“And these are people who have helped American efforts," said Fahey. "So, this includes people who served as interpreters, helping out our armed forces over there.”
Part of IRC’s job is to ensure that refugees have the resources they need to have a successful resettlement. That includes job search, enrolling children in school and housing, which is hard to come by in Missoula these days.
The US State Department and Department of Health and Human Services provide funding for resettlement organizations like the IRC.
“And basically we receive a set amount from those agencies, per person. That is resettled," said Fahey. "Now that amount, now is not was a little inadequate because of the rising cost of living, particularly housing in Missoula.”
Airbnb released a statement on Aug. 24 saying they would provide housing for 20,000 Afghan refugees.
"Airbnb has been a wonderful partner contributes throughout, throughout the country to, to the, to our organization and to other resettlement agencies,” said Fahey.
IRC in Missoula has helped about 400 refugees resettle in Western Montana over the span of the past five years. From there some leave to other parts of the nation, but the IRC has an 80% success rate in refugees becoming self-sufficient after 90 to 180 days of being stateside.
“And again, that means they are, they are on their own they are paying for their rent, they are paying for, you know, their, their groceries and everything else. Paying for daycare. If they have a child in daycare,” said Fahey.
Fahey says that refugees are a huge part of the local economy once they are settled. “So, currently they're fulfilling a great need in terms of jobs.”
Refugees are covid tested before and after they arrive in Missoula. IRC in Missoula is working with Partnership Health to test locally.
The IRC in Missoula is urging community members to help welcome these refugees. If you would like to make a financial gift or a supply donation, you can head over to IRC's website. However, a smile does go a long way.