Catholic Diocese of Little Rock preparing for Afghan refugees arrival in Arkansas

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Close to 100 Afghan refugees are headed to Arkansas and could arrive within a week. Half will go to Northwest Arkansas and the other half will be in Little Rock.

“We’ve been allocated 98 slots for Afghan refugees,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said.

As almost 100 people fleeing from Afghanistan are set to touch down in the Natural State, Governor Hutchinson said the race is on to prepare for their arrival.

“Refugee resettlement agencies are working to be ready for them,” Hutchinson said.

One of those agencies is the Diocese of Little Rock.

“Right now, I think we’ve been given five cases and it’s already 33 individuals. These are really large families,” Catholic Immigration Services And Refugee Resettlement Director Jennifer Verkamp-Ruthven said.

Verkamp-Ruthven said they’ve created sponsor teams from various congregations of different faith backgrounds. Each refugee or family will have a caseworker assigned to help them get acclimated.

“Finding housing, enrolling kids in school, finding employment, learning English,” Verkamp-Ruthven said.

She said each step of the process has different elements to consider, especially when it comes to finding housing.

“They might not have adequate transportation for a while so like can they walk to the grocery store, can they walk to their place of employment, can they walk their children to school,” Verkamp-Ruthven said.

Verkamp-Ruthven and her team are finishing the last steps to get everything in place.

“They’re going to arrive hopefully within the next week or so,” Verkamp-Ruthven said.

She said the goal is to help each person build a new life here in Arkansas.

“We know that they want to become self-sufficient. We know that they’re grateful to be here and so now it’s up to us to take the time to best prepare them to be self-sufficient here in our country,” Verkamp-Ruthven said.

The Diocese of Little Rock is taking donations to help with various needs. To donate you can visit dolr.org

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