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Catholic Charities partners with Pocatello, government to resettle up to 20 Afghan allies in eastern

The following story appeared in the December 17 Idaho Catholic Register.

A new community partnership in Idaho will provide safety to Afghan allies who have been forced to flee their home country.


Catholic Charities of Idaho, as part of its mission to support human well-being and in partnership with the Idaho Office for Refugees, is leading a community partnership program in Pocatello that will resettle a small number of Afghan refugees in this time of urgent need. The program is prepared to welcome up to 25 Afghan refugees to the Pocatello area with seven already settled.


Statewide, Idaho is on track to receive 1,296 refugees from many nations through the end of September 2022. That number includes more than 400 from Afghanistan.


CCI is working closely with eastern Idaho community groups, faith congregations, businesses, nonprofits and local leaders to respond to the for help to assist 25 Afghan refugees.


“These brave Afghan allies have suffered a great loss for our sake, including the loss of homes, livelihoods and sometimes even separation from families,” said Kathleen Lewis, parish council president at Holy Spirit Catholic Community in Pocatello. “They remind me of the Holy family of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus who had to flee to Egypt to escape life-threatening conditions,” she said.


CCI has support from the U.S. State Department, the Idaho State Refugee Office and from the local community to resettle a small number of refugees from Afghanistan. Local employers have indicated that they will assist with current job openings.


Deacon Scott Pearhill, who serves at the Pocatello parish, noted that the Afghans are “our allies who have supported our national security with their very lives, making deep personal sacrifices, who now need our help.” Deacon Pearhill said it is an honor for the community to “be asked to support these brave men, women and children who are trying to make a new life in our country and in our city. I’m proud of Pocatello for its openness and generosity.”


The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the national affiliate of Catholic Charities, is one of nine agencies nationwide that collaborates with the State Department to resettle refugees arriving in the United States.


“We are proud to have the opportunity to welcome and assist those who have kept Americans safe in Afghanistan,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the USCCB. “As they now leave everything behind to begin new lives here, the many sacrifices they’ve Office and from the local community to resettle a small number of refugees from Afghanistan. Local employers have indicated that they will assist with current job openings.


Deacon Scott Pearhill, who serves at the Pocatello parish, noted that the Afghans are “our allies who have supported our national security with their very lives, making deep personal sacrifices, who now need our help.” Deacon Pearhill said it is an honor for the community to “be asked to support these brave men, women and children who are trying to make a new life in our country and in our city. I’m proud of Pocatello for its openness and generosity.”


The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the national affiliate of Catholic Charities, is one of nine agencies nationwide that collaborates with the State Department to resettle refugees arriving in the United States.


“We are proud to have the opportunity to welcome and assist those who have kept Americans safe in Afghanistan,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the USCCB. “As they now leave everything behind to begin new lives here, the many sacrifices they’ve has now been asked by the USCCB to help,” said Doug Alles, CCI executive director. “Our activities are based upon the fundamental belief in the dignity of all persons and a robust and long tradition in the Church of advocacy for and support of migrants and displaced persons,” he said.


The Catholic network has assisted prominently with post-WWII resettlement efforts, the Hungarian crisis in the 1950s, the Cuban refugee program in the early 1960s, the Vietnamese efforts of the 1970s-90s, refugees from the former Soviet Union in the 1980s-90s, and post-9/11 related refugee populations from the Middle East as well as refugees from central Africa in the 21st century.


Eastern Idaho also has a legacy of strong support for welcoming refugees. In the 1970s, before Idaho’s resettlement program officially began, church congregations came together to sponsor refugee families.


Idaho’s refugee resettlement pro-gram originated in 1975 and for the past two decades has been administered by the Idaho Office for Refugees. Three resettlement agencies operate in Idaho: the International Rescue Committee in Boise, the Agency for New Americans in Boise, and the CSI Refugee Programs in Twin Falls.


“As the nation pulls together to honor its commitments to resettle Afghan allies, Catholic Charities of Idaho has now been asked by the USCCB to help,” said Doug Alles, CCI executive director. “Our activities are based upon the fundamental belief in the dignity of all persons and a robust and long tradition in the Church of advocacy for and support of migrants and displaced per-sons,” he said. “We’re honored, ready and willing to assist with this effort, even in a modest way, by responding to this call and showing compassion to families and individuals in great need.”


CCI is not becoming a new resettlement agency in Idaho, but rather is a contracted “Community Partner” service provider with the USCCB in this time of heightened need, Alles said.


 

Catholic Charities of Idaho offers social services, mental health services, and immigration legal services that improve lives, promote dignity, and build individual and family self-sufficiency. CCI is a faith-based social service organization founded on the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Founded in 2000, it prioritizes service to those most in need, and fosters safety, trust, collaboration, and empowerment as the key guiding principles of its work with those in need. CCI seeks partnership, collaboration, and association with those who share its values and mission of service. CCI offers services to all people, regardless of religion, age, gender, disability, race/ethnicity, income or background.


For more information, go to ccidaho.org.



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