CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A video of a baby being passed over a wall to an American soldier guarding the Kabul International Airport shows how precarious the situation in Afghanistan is.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking to see the level of human suffering,” said Ibtesam Barazi.
Barazi is the vice president of the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry.
She says the small group hasn’t resettled any refugees since its inception in 2016, but through their affiliation with the national Episcopal Migration Ministry – which is actively helping evacuation efforts in Afghanistan – it’s now a possibility.
“We were told if we are to settle refugees here in West Virginia since we have a plan of resettling refugees with EMM, we will get some Afghani, but how many when and where — that’s all determined by the State Department.”
Charleston immigration lawyer Paul Saluja says there are different classifications: Special Immigrant Visas, refugees and asylum seekers (those who are already in the country).
Congress recently approved an additional 8,000 Special Immigrant Visas specifically to help Afghanistan allies.
“This is not something that is unprecedented, following the Vietnam war, those individuals that helped the United States and their allies, we would allow them to get Special Immigrant Visas and that’s what you’re seeing happening right now,” said Saluja.
Saluja says it’s possible some evacuees will be placed in U.S. military bases while their visas are processed.
“It’s not just doled out for free, they have to have demonstrated they supported the mission,” he said.
This could mean transcribers, contractors, and those who were directly employed by the armed forces.
Bazari, who is originally from Syria says no one wants to leave their home country ‘just because’ and she hopes Charleston will welcome any Afghan refugees who may come.
“I understand the fact that there are some people who say ‘I don’t want any refugees in my backyard’ Jesus said love thy neighbor but not in my backyard, however from a perspective of humanity and a perspective of diversity and prosperity, we do need to encourage refugees and immigrants in West Virginia,” she said.