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159 Afghan refugees receive help from The Center in Utica

The Center

Over 100 Afghan refugees have made homes in central New York over the past year thanks to The Center in Utica.

159 Afghan refugees were referred to The Center which works to give resettlement, education and community resources to immigrants and refugees.

After Afghanistan citizens came to the U.S. they were given humanitarian parole status under the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program. The status does not provide the same support that refugee status does and The Center Director Shelly Callahan said this is something people should keep in mind.

"A lot of folks, because of the way they fled Afghanistan, there was a lot of family separation, like immediate family separation," Callahan said. "So, when you are here with humanitarian parole status, you cannot begin the work of reuniting with your family. So I think that if there is something for folks to be aware of it is that our work with these Afghan folks is not over."

The Center was able to re-house all the Afghan residents and Callahan said that the community support over the year has been amazing.

"Unfortunately in this space the one year you see these two really horrific things happen, one in Afghanistan and now in Ukraine, and really the outpouring of community support has been, its been kind of amazing," Callahan said.

The Center has worked hard to help the vulnerable population through education and housing services. Callahan says that the staff has worked hard to give people a soft landing when they come, but the process can still be stressful.

"Speaking to refugees that have gone through it, and thinking back to those early months, I think its really stressful and really an overwhelming time," Callahan said.

The Center continues to provide community services to over 800 refugees and immigrants each year.

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.