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Refugee families set to arrive in Des Moines this week

It takes many agencies to coordinate for the arrival of dozens of refugees from Afghanistan into Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa — After almost a month since the evacuation of thousands of Afghans and American allies out of Afghanistan, several families are set to arrive in central Iowa to resettle in the area.

Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa is one of the many local agencies working around the clock to gather materials and resources for the refugees.

"This is something Iowa is good at, welcoming refugees and resettling with our programs," said Stephanie Moris Peguero. "So with the news of the additional arrivals from Afghanistan, our resettlement agencies are doing what they need to do to prepare and get ready."

Preparation for Afghan refugees includes staff seeking housing, education opportunities, job openings and donations from the community to furnish a new place to live.

What RACI is mostly soliciting right now is household goods or monetary donations to get the refugees on their feet when they arrive in Des Moines.

There are nine volunteer agencies across the country resettling refugees. Two agencies in Iowa resettle these individuals: Catholic Charities and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

RACI works as a "network collaborative to bring everybody to the same table, whether it be education or labor, employers, and health care providers, to see what these people need and how we can get it to them," Moris Peguero said.

The resettlement agencies provide services between 90 and 180 days, depending on the grant program funding. 

Other groups like RACI, Lutheran Services of Iowa, or EMBARC provide supportive services to refugees. Faith leaders assist as well.

"We all want to help them participate fully in a civic life here in the United States, and it's really up to those agencies that can be there a year later to offer that cultural and linguistic lense as needs come up," Moris Peguero said.

Iowa could receive up to 695 Afghan refugees to resettle.

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