Central Alberta Refugee Effort is waiting to hear if refugees from Afghanistan will eventually arrive here.
Canadian officials recently said that the Afghans will be resettled in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
“It’s really the last minute that they’ll let us know. Together with our partner agency Catholic Social Services, we will be ready to welcome any refugees that will come,” said Frank Bauer, executive director with the refugee effort.
Canada has helped 1,500 Afghan refugees to safety so far.
The federal government also announced it would resettle 20,000 refugees who have already fled Afghanistan which is a separate commitment from its promise to help Afghans who assisted Canada during the war against the Taliban.
The Taliban was able to seize nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week.
Desperate Afghans who previously worked as interpreters for Western military forces and news agencies, among others, are in hiding, fearing for the safety of themselves and their families after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban last week and exposed them to violent reprisals.
“It’s pretty devastating what’s happening,” Bauer said.
He said the federal government will keep the refugees together until they decide where they will be relocated.
In the meantime, he was pleased to report that local Afghans and other central Albertans have already contacted the refugee effort asking if there is anything they can do to help.
He said his organization will help any families that come with housing, health care, language training, and accessing schooling for children.
In 2016 about 200 Syrian refugees came to Red Deer, which is the last time a large number of refugees arrived in the area.
He said this year about 30 government-sponsored and 10 privately-sponsored refugees have come to central Alberta. That’s about half the usual number.
— With files from The Canadian Press