As the Afghan crisis worsens, Edmonton and Calgary are now receiving refugees who have managed to flee the Taliban.
Thousands of migrants are likely to arrive in Alberta in the coming months, and this is just the beginning.
“We have 80 of them in Alberta so far: 60 in Calgary and 20 in Edmonton. We expect more people to arrive, and these are the ones who arrived after their two-week quarantine in Toronto,” said Fariborz Birjandian, CEO of Calgary Catholic Social Services.
The province’s Catholic social service institutions have been tasked with assisting government-assisted refugee families in settling into their new home.
“Usually, we keep them for 15 to 21 days to go through the orientation to get to know the city, their documentation, health and school issues and then they move to permanent accommodations,” Birjandian said.
In the coming months, Birjandian said roughly 5,000 refugees are expected to move to not only Edmonton and Calgary but also Red Deer, Brooks, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.
But as they arrive, large welcome parties at airports like when Syrian refugees came to Canada are not expected or planned.
“They’ve been torn away from their homeland, they’re leaving people who they love behind, they are obviously very concerned about what’s going on. So we try and keep information pretty tight about where they are,” Edmonton Catholic Social Services director of development and community relations Eoin Murray said.
Global News spoke to refugees who supported the Canadian military or government and are now trying to adjust to life in Alberta, but they say so far, it’s not easy.
They still fear for the safety of family members in Afghanistan, so Global News has agreed to conceal their identities.
“We are happy here, but we can’t say we are entirely happy because we are concerned about our nation, our families, and the people back home,” a recent refugee in Calgary stated.
Another refugee who arrived in Calgary remarked, “The sensation was mixed of happiness and despair, but we like being here.”
Organizations like the Islamic Family and Social Services Association will sponsor and support refugees as more arrive.
It will also seek to bring loved ones who are stranded overseas home.
“We work on a long-term basis. When someone arrives, it’s only the beginning, according to Omar Yaqub of the Islamic Family and Social Services Association.