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Pittsburgh Jewish organization assists Afghani refugees relocating to the area

PITTSBURGH — The Jewish Family and Community Services organization is working with Afghani families who are relocating to Pittsburgh after the Taliban took over their country.

One family is already here in Pittsburgh, and another will be arriving in town shortly. JFCS organizers are hopeful that the people of the city will welcome them all with open arms.

“They are happy to be here and feel safe and they are just ready to start working, they want their kids to go to school,” JFCS Refugee and Immigrant Services Director Ivonne Smith-Tapia said.

As for the other family, the timing of when they will arrive in Pittsburgh is unclear because of the chaos in Kabul.

“It’s hard for us to predict when things will close down, when planes will be able to get out because of everything that’s going on in the country. We don’t know, but we are ready for them,” JFCS Director of Development and Communications Rebecca Remson said.

The families are coming to Pittsburgh on tourist visas or an SIV, which is short for “specialized immigrant visa.” This means meaning they likely worked for or with the US government in some way in Afghanistan.

The JCFS works to secure housing, doctors, benefits and other crucial needs to help assimilate to life in their new city.

Normally, the group has months to prepare, but with this situation there was barely a week of notice.

And part of an easy transition includes the support of their new community.

“Coming into a community that’s welcoming and holding their arms open is important. With SIVs in particular who experience panic, it’s even more important that Pittsburghers rally around them,” JCFA President and Immigrant Services Dr. Jordan Golin said.