Britain Afghanistan

A young boy pulls a suitcase as refugees arrive from Afghanistan aboard an evacuation flight at Heathrow Airport in London, Thursday Aug. 26, 2021. The U.K. defense ministry has organised an air-lift of vulnerable citizens from Kabul, following the Taliban assuming power in Afghanistan. (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via AP)

(The Center Square) – About 350 Afghan refugees will resettle soon within Iowa, officials anticipate.

“Right now, the resettlement agencies working in Iowa believe we have capacity to help resettle approximately 350 Afghans in addition to our normal resettlement programs,” U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Des Moines Field Office Director Kerri True-Funk told The Center Square in an emailed statement. ”This is our current capacity and could change on the longer term. We reached this figure in consultation with the Bureau of Refugee Services, a part of the Iowa Department of Human Services.”

Most Afghan families will likely settle around “the larger population centers,” such as Des Moines and near Iowa City, where there are already small communities of resettled immigrants, she said.

“These areas offer amenities like mosques and Halal grocery stores, which are important for many Afghan families,” True-Funk said.

The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration funding will support the resettlement, she said.

“This funding provides the resettlement agencies a small amount per resettled individual to help secure housing and other necessities and some funding to help support case management services,” she said.

The Associated Press reported that each Afghan refugee “is slated” to receive $1,225 for rent, food and other expenses.

Resettlement agencies have been “overwhelmed” by public support for now, and their office is sorting through the proceeds of multiple donation drives that have collected household supplies, she said.

Still, the families will need help with food and household goods until they are able to begin working, she said.

“We would happily accept gift cards for groceries and household goods from HyVee and Walmart as well as gift cards to Walgreens for medical supplies,” she said. “These businesses have stores located on bus lines and near areas where refugee families live, so they’re easier for families to access.”

Iowa Department of Human Services spokesman Alex Carfrae said in an email to Local 5 that the 350 number is a short-term count.

“Our state has a long history of welcoming refugees from all over the world, and the Department’s Bureau of Refugee Services is eager to help coordinate the arrival of the newest Iowans,” he said. “Our resettlement partners have the capacity to settle approximately 350 people in the short term.”