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St. Louis working to bring more Afghan refugees to the area

<i>KMOV</i><br/>Welcome Neighbor STL
Welcome Neighbor STL

By Alexis Zotos

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    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — On Sunday afternoon, Welcome Neighbor STL, a nonprofit helping refugees in St. Louis, hosted a pop-up market to benefit local families who’ve resettled in the area.

Mawda Altayan came to St. Louis from Syria in 2016. She was one of the vendors at the market and works with Welcome Neighbor STL to connect more recently resettled refugees.

The organization is currently supporting 300 people who’ve immigrated to St. Louis, connecting them with a local family to help them get acclimated.

St. Louis is currently working to bring more refugees. Javad Khazaeli, a St. Louis attorney just returned from a trip with the International Institue to Albania, where they spoke to refugees waiting to resettle to the US about coming to St. Louis.

“We did an outreach program where we went to Albania and met with the refugees to teach them about St. Louis with the hope that they’ll pick St. Louis when they finally are able to immigrate,” said Khazaeli.

The Afghan refugees in Albania are awaiting resettlement after evacuating from Kabul in 2021. The International Institute says there’s a strong interest in St. Louis because of the established resources. So far, St. Louis has welcomed 700 Afghan refugees since 2021.

“I feel like if they could support other refugees that come here I would be so happy,” said Altayan.

Since the start of 2023, St. Louis has already welcome 52 refugees from Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Afghanistan.

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