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Western New England looks to welcome Afghan refugees

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MSGT PATRICK NUGENT / U.S. AIR FORCE
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An Afghan evacuee being transported to the U.S. Air Force Regional Medical Center in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Of the more than 55,000 Afghan refugees relocated to the United States, several thousand will soon call New England home.

About 1,000 are expected in Massachusetts. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said in September the White House asked his state to expect the first few hundred refugees, the same way the state helped settle more than 1,000 Syrians in 2016.

Among those arriving are translators, drivers, and others who helped the U.S. military during the 20-year war with the Taliban. Resettlement agencies in the area find themselves swamped with volunteer offers, as refugees begin to arrive. Those agencies have also prepared detailed lists of needs to be addressed in the near and long terms for newcomers.

We examine some of those needs in conversations with Chris George, Executive Director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services of New Haven, CT; Jeffrey Kinney, Chief of Strategic Development for Ascentria Care Alliance; and Kathryn Buckley-Brawner of Catholic Charities of Springfield.

We also meet an Afghan family that is making Worcester its new home, as one of the first refugee families to arrive in the state.