Local nonprofit groups prepare to help out more Afghan refugees


SAN DIEGO — It’s been two months since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and local nonprofits are preparing for another influx of Afghan refugees in San Diego County. 

The county estimates around 1,000 Afghan refugees will call San Diego their new home. 

“It has been a very, very busy time,” said Walter Lam, President & CEO of Alliance for African Assistance. “We are getting arrivals every day.”

The Alliance for African Assistance is one of the main local nonprofits stepping up to help. 

“Yesterday we went to pick up four families, guess what, there were four others that arrived that we were not even given notice that they were coming, so these are the kinds of things we are dealing with right now,” he said. 

Lam said since the Taliban takeover, the nonprofit has helped resettle around 245 Afghan refugees in San Diego County. 

Since the county recently announced the latest influx, Lam said the Alliance for African Assistance agreed to take in 510 of those people. In addition, 510 more are asking for help. 

“There’s no way we can say no,” he said. 

County supervisors are working to develop a plan to address housing and other resettlement needs, along with bringing more federal funds to San Diego to help. 

Lam said it could be a while before the nonprofit sees some of that money. But thanks to donations, largely from the faith community, refugees are able to stay in hotels, Airbnb and apartments. 

A local volunteer group, San Diego Afghan Refugees Aid Group, is largely made up of Afghan-Americans looking to help the newcomers feel welcome. They’re also helping refugees get connected with resources. 

“We’ve built such a relationship with these new incoming families and we try to check up on them once a week and see how they’re doing if they need anything,” volunteer Zulaikha Rahim said. “And we just went to visit one of the families yesterday and they’re like, you know where can we buy some bread, some Afghan bread, and we took it over there and it’s just the little things that they miss from back home.” 

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