KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City refugee organizations want to ensure they are ready to welcome Afghan refugees, though it's still unclear how many will resettle in the metro following the Taliban's capture of the Afghan capital earlier this month.
Ryan Hudnall, executive director of Della Lamb Community Services, said his organization is preparing to serve Afghan refugees who arrive as early as September.
"We have the privilege to be the first voices to welcome many who arrive in Kansas City," Hudnall said.
The organization – one of three refugee resettlement groups in the metro – helps refugees become self-sufficient as quick as possible once they arrive and assists them in finding housing, employment and establishing their new life.
Hudnall said the community benefits greatly from refugees.
"There's so many things that refugees bring to help out with employment, their rich cultures, the food," Hudnall said. "There's so much contributions they're making to our city."
But it's still too soon to know how many refugees his organization will serve, according to Hudnall.
"A lot of those conversations are happening right now at the national level, as the government and Afghans decide, 'What is the best environment for me as I step in to the United States?'" Hudnall said.
The United States, according to Hudnall, currently is seeing some refugees arrive who assisted the U.S. military in Afghanistan and have special immigrant visas.
A proposal at the national level would allow up to 50,000 more refugees in the U.S. Hudnall anticipates more clarity in the next two weeks to a month on how many refugees will come to Kansas City.
In the meantime, he's having conversations with city leaders, such as Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas, about the city's role in welcoming refugees and helping them establish their new life.
"We're going to discuss housing, employment, legal services and medical coverage," Hudnall said. "If we can understand those four core areas we have a real chance to be distinct in how Kansas City responds to this crisis emerging out of Afghanistan."
Hudnall said he is pleased with the city's response so far.
"I've had employers reach out, the three resettlement agencies have all connected to reflect upon what is it that we can think through and work together to make sure that this city offers the best environment to receive and to help those who arrive to thrive," Hudnall said.
Hudnall said he hopes community members will show their support by staying informed, donating or volunteering with resettlement groups if they are able.
Della Lamb will host a public zoom meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday to provide refugee information to anyone who wants to learn more.