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Vermont to resettle 100 Afghan evacuees

U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Afghanistan, Aug. 24, 2021. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen

Updated at 5:51 p.m.

Vermont is slated to resettle 100 Afghan evacuees, Gov. Phil Scott said Thursday.

The refugees would be among the first group of 37,000 to be resettled across the United States. The Biden administration has requested funding from Congress to settle 65,000 Afghan refugees by the end of September and 95,000 by the end of September 2022.

“We have a moral obligation to help the people of Afghanistan, who did so much to help us in the war on terror,” Scott said in a press release.

The Vermont chapter of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has been working with the State Department. Late last month, USCRI submitted a formal request to the federal government to host 100 Afghan refugees to the state. The Scott administration supported the request. 

“We were glad to receive this approval from the State Department,” Tracy Dolan, the director of the State Refugee Office, said in the press release. “It is an honor to help those who have served our service members overseas and it is a wonderful opportunity for Vermont’s communities and for our businesses who are very interested in expanding our workforce and filling our job vacancies.”

USCRI Vermont indicated in its request that if the resettlement began with a few families, Chittenden County would be the logical destination given the availability of social services there. 

“What we are planning to do is to resettle a few families in Chittenden County,” Amila Merdzanovic, director of USCRI Vermont, told VTDigger earlier this month.

The State Department also approved the Ethiopian Community Development Council to open a new field office in Brattleboro. The council plans to make a proposal to the State Department to resettle 25 Afghans to Brattleboro in the coming months. 

“After many months of planning and discussions we look forward to starting the work of welcoming refugees and Special Immigrant Visa Holders to the southern part of Vermont,” said Jessica Chapman, the council’s community outreach manager, in the press release.

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce welcomed the resettlement.

“For years, the Vermont Chamber has supported additional funding for refugee resettlement in Vermont,” said Betsy Bishop, the group’s president. “Welcoming these refugees to our state is part of the Vermonter spirit, helps our economy, and grows our workforce when we need it most.”

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