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Agency preparing for more Afghans to arrive in East Tennessee

Bridge Refugee Services is preparing to receive more Afghan refugees.
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 11:08 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Bridge Refugee Services tells WVLT News that they are preparing for more Afghan refugees to come to East Tennessee.

Bridge Refugee Services is a non-profit agency that provides protection and assistance to refugees as they adjust to a new life in America.

“Bridge Refugee Services expressed the willingness to participate in Afghan evacuees support program and we are waiting on the confirmation of the numbers that will be sent in East Tennessee,” said Drocella Mugorewera, executive director of Bridge Refugee Services.

Drocella said they are training volunteers until the federal government confirms how many refugees will be sent to their Knoxville and Chattanooga locations, as well as when they will be arriving.

Operation Allies Refuge is a joint operation established on July 14, 2021, to relocate eligible Afghan nationals and their immediate families who supported the U.S. government and applied for a Special Immigrant Visa. The Department of Defense is assisting by providing temporary housing, sustainment, and support for up to 50,000 refugees.

“U.S. Northern Command, in support of Department of State, is honored to lead the Department of Defense efforts to this critical mission. In all we do, we will demonstrate our commitment to our Afghan partners and their families who have sacrificed in pursuit of mutual security objectives.” said Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the U.S. Northern Command.

The Department of State is working closely with non-governmental agencies like Bridge Refugee Services to streamline arrival processes.

“The outpouring of care from Americans seeking to help, especially from the Afghan American community, is incredible,” said a spokesperson with the State Department. “Local resettlement agencies, and other non-governmental organizations working with refugees and immigrants, will be best placed to harness this goodwill as people make it through their initial processing and begin their new lives in America.”

Bridge confirmed late last month that on August 12th, two Afghan people were relocated to East Tennessee.

People who want to volunteer with Bridge Refugee Services can email vista@bridgerefugees.org. They are planning to train volunteers soon so they can be ready before refugees arrive.

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