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How one Afghan family escaped to Des Moines

One family escaped Afghanistan and has now been in Des Moines for more than a week.

DES MOINES, Iowa — More than 82,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan following the Taliban seizure of the country

One of those families is now in Des Moines.

That family includes a mom, dad and kids said Kerri True-Funk, the field office director for U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). They've been in Iowa for a little more than a week.

USCRI isn't saying much about the family at this time as a safety precaution.

True-Funk said the family came to Des Moines because they have "U.S. ties," here. 

"Which means that they have a person that agreed to help them through the resettlement process," True-Funk said. "Generally those are family members but sometimes they might be somebody that they've known for years."

True-Funk said this family was among the first evacuated from the country. They were able to be resettled quickly because they were already working to move here on a Special Immigrant Visa before the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

True-Funk said the refugee resettlement process usually takes years, but it has changed for some due to the ongoing crisis. 

"In this situation, they are coming to the local places and having background checks, medical screenings, a variety of different pieces that would be part of that two-year process, but is being expedited," True-Funk said. "That being said, they are going to be on those military bases for a while."

Before refugees come to the U.S., they're taken to other countries like Germany and Qatar for screenings.

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True-Funk said USCRI has set the refugee family up in an apartment, and the organization will pay their rent for a few months.  

"We'll work with them through various programs we have, for about six months, which will help them get everything set up in their household as well as help them find a job and become self-sufficient," True-Funk said. 

She also said it is uncertain if more refugees from Afghanistan will be coming to Des Moines, but there is a possibility.

Refugees that do come over are eligible for certain public benefits like the Refugee Cash Assistance program and Refugee Medical Assistance program. 

Even though there are programs to help refugees when they arrive, USCRI Des Moines is asking for donations to help with things like rent. You can find out more here, or if you are interested in the national refugee assistance fund, you can find out more here.

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