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New program helping Afghan, Ukraine refugees resettle in Detroit

Samaritas refugees
Posted at 9:55 PM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 21:55:50-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Apartment units on Detroit’s west side will soon be filled with refugee families from Afghanistan and Ukraine. It’s part of a yearlong effort and thanks to a new coalition.

“When they left Afghanistan, they had nothing. Now, they have everything,” Said Urahman, an Afghan refugee, said.

Urahman worked closely with the U.S. military as a translator before arriving in Detroit four months ago with his family.

He now works for the city of Detroit and is among those thankful to the new Detroit Refugee Network, which raises money to help families with housing, transportation, education, legal services and health care needs.

7 Action News was allowed inside this family’s apartment to show an example of one of many being provided as partner agencies like Samaritas work to raise more than a million dollars additionally for this cause.

Samaritas says two of the biggest challenges are inventory and affordable housing.

“We are so grateful to our landlord community and city of Detroit,” said Kelli Dobner, Samaritas’ chief advancement officer.

Another refugee assisted by a translator expressed gratitude to local churches and mosques in the coalition helping to ease transition.

“We are really happy to be part of this Michigan community,” the translator said.

Dobner says hundreds of refugees have relocated to Michigan and more are planning to come.

“More than 650 Afghan refugees have come to Michigan since late 2021, 250 more plan to come and more from Ukraine in the coming weeks and months,” Dobner said.

Local businesses like Rocket Mortgage, Gardner White Furniture and Kroger are also providing more resources from volunteering to furniture and food.

“They have partnered with us to ensure our refugee families have fully stocked pantries and refrigerators,” Dobner said.

Rocket Community Fund volunteer Andrea Washington said, “I’ve built furniture, I’ve lifted things moving into different apartments or housing.”

Refugees like Urahman are looking forward to new opportunities.

“The city of Detroit has seen a lot of successful immigrants. That’s kind of encouraging,” Urahman said.

Urahman said. Samaritas also points out how quickly families adapt, with a vast majority being fully self-sufficient within the first 180 days.