COLUMBIA — With the unrest in Afghanistan, a resettlement agency in Columbia is preparing for refugees. 

"The time is definitely now," Samantha Moog, the director of refugee services for Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, said.

Moog said she anticipates Afghan refugees to possibly resettle in mid-Missouri as soon as September. 

"We are really getting ready now to welcome and resettle them here in mid-Missouri,” Moog said. “We don’t know what number of individuals we can expect, and we’ve been working closely with our national agency to discuss our capacity locally to receive and welcome Afghan refugees.”  

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri has four locations in mid-Missouri, including Columbia, Sedalia and two locations in Jefferson City.

Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri is an affiliate of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Moog said the USCCB is a national-level agency that sponsors refugee resettlement.

Moog said there are multiple types of refugees that come to America. Some enter through the U.S. Refugee Admissions program. Some also enter as Special Immigrant Visa (SIVs) holders. These are people and families who were contractors with the U.S. government or military and have since been threatened, as seen in some situations with Afghanistan. She said with the current emergency situation there, some Afghan refugees have not completed the full SIV process before leaving the country. 

Moog said another conversation at the table is mid-Missouri's capacity for welcoming Afghan refugees. 

In this situation, Moog said a timeline is hard to predict. She said once Afghan refugees are brought to the U.S., they're processed at one of the U.S. forts. She says processing can take anywhere from a week to a month. 

“A lot is up in the air, because there is an enormous amount of people that need a new place to call home,” Moog said. “The first step is processing." 

When a refugee is set to be resettled, Moog said the first criteria that is looked at is a U.S. tie, which is a family member or friend located in the U.S.

She says although there isn't a large Afghan community in central Missouri, there are still ties. 

"We have a relatively small Afghan community in central Missouri," Moog said. "We do have a community and we do have people here, and we have been in many discussions with different Afghan community members about their particular family-friend situations and how we can support." 

Moog said now is the time for preparation. She said Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri is looking at expanding staffing, organizing volunteers, accepting donations and trying to find available and affordable housing. 

To help Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, you can visit its website.

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