Afghan, Honduran and South Sudanese Families Resettled in Weber County | News, Sports, Jobs

Benjamin Zack, Standard Examiner File Photo

Two refugee families and a family of Afghan evacuees have resettled in Weber County, the first of a contingent expected to come here through 2022. In this April 12, 2018 file photo, Segafuni Muhanuka, at left, is working on an English lesson with Kay Healey at Muhanuka’s Ogden flat. Muhanhuka and his wife are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

OGDEN — The first three families expected as part of a new wave of international refugees and Afghan evacuees to Weber County have been resettled here.

They are part of a larger contingent of refugees and Afghans arriving in Utah and the rest of the United States throughout the year. The two refugee families – from Honduras and South Sudan – are the first to be resettled in Weber County since a group from the Democratic Republic of Congo arrived in Africa in 2016, according to Aden Batar. He is director of migration and refugee services at Catholic Community Services of Utah, one of two agencies assisting with resettlement efforts in Utah.

“We’re doing all the basics right now,” Batar said. That is, CCS representatives and volunteers help newcomers adjust to the area – helping enroll children in the contingent at school, helping them with US bureaucracy, and helping them grapple with the customs of a new country.

The Afghan family, which includes a US citizen of Afghan descent, is part of the contingent that fled Afghanistan following the departure of the US military from the country last September. The new refugee arrivals are part of the wave coming from refugee camps around the world under the expansion of the US refugee program under President Joe Biden.

A total of 917 Afghans have traveled to Utah since the U.S. pullout, according to Asha Parekh, who heads the Utah Department of Manpower Services Office of Refugee Services, overseeing the effort. In addition to this, a Another 160 refugees have been resettled here, she said, from Congo, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and Iraq.

“Most of them are relocating to the Salt Lake Valley to be closer to resources and support, and about 19 are in Logan. A small number are also in Ogden,” Parekh said.

Utah will receive about 1,200 total refugees through 2022 under the expansion of the US refugee program, according to Parekh. Between Afghans and refugees, the Ogden region will host about fifteen families, Batar said.

“As always, it’s a difficult adjustment to start living in a new place, where refugees often don’t know the language, customs, culture and way of life. But they adapt over time and are really grateful to have a home, where they are generously welcomed,” Parekh said.

Jennifer Gnagey assisted CCS with their relocation efforts in Weber County. Such initiatives are important as a way to help those most in need, she said.

“Refugees are indeed people without a country. They cannot return to their country of origin because they risk persecution or other risks to their livelihoods,” she said. As a world leader, the United States, among other countries, has a responsibility to “give these people a home.”

Batar did not have details of the Honduran and South Sudanese families in Weber County. However, many are fleeing Honduras due to gang violence in the Central American country.

South Sudan gained independence in 2011 but then descended into a civil war that killed 400,000 people, according to Reuters. Despite a peace agreement, political uncertainty persists in the African nation.


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