Polk County readies to welcome Afghan refugees

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DES MOINES, Iowa– Afghan refugees are coming to Iowa. More than 500 could be calling Polk County home. Some have already arrived.

Polk County has a warehouse at the site of the former Sherwin Williams Paint store west of downtown. The county has spent $44,000 to purchase some 300 beds. Delivery of those beds has already begun.

“We have 300 frames delivered yesterday we have another 150 beds next week coming, ” said Robert Brownell, of the Polk County Board of Supervisors. “The reason that’s  important, you can’t take used beds for refugees and immigrants or anybody really.”

The refugees have 90 to 180 days to get on their feet economically.

“When people first arrive to the United States during our regular refugee reception placement program they actually arrive in debt,” said Stephanie Moris, of the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa. “They have to pay back the plane ticket cost it took to get them here.”

Moris said they will begin taking donations of household items like couches, dining tables, pots and pans, and winter coats. They will do that once volunteers are in place in this warehouse. After the holidays, they will announce when they are ready to accept donations.

“Central Iowa actually has a really long history of welcoming refugees, it’s something our communities pretty good at,” said Moris. “People can get involved, we are looking for volunteers to help with the warehouse.”

There are many people in Iowa who are excited to welcome refugees as new residents of Iowa. Many feel there is a moral imperative to help those in Afghanistan who helped the United States, but there is another reason.

“There’s an economic imperative help with the labor shortage here because they will as they get assimilated into the culture, into these jobs and they’re not all entry-level jobs they come here with some skills,” said Brownell.

To learn more about items needed in donations to help the refugees, check the Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa website.

 

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