LOCAL NEWS

Welcome event held for hundreds of Afghan refugees as they arrive in Utah

Oct 26, 2021, 10:23 AM | Updated: 10:25 am
(KSL TV)...
(KSL TV)
(KSL TV)

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Hundreds of Afghan refugees that recently came to Utah met Monday night at the Utah Islamic Center in West Jordan. The United Afghan-American Coalition planned the night to give those recently relocated to the state a chance to get resources like food, clothing and other necessities.

They also met to pray together.

Shubair Aminzada escaped Taliban rule with her mother and older brother when she was 2 years old. Her father was killed by the Taliban, and she remembers the struggle of being new to the United States. She’s now the president of the United Afghan-American Coalition, an organization specifically designed to help refugees get acclimated to life in the U.S.

“Pretty much everyone that’s coming through, they’re coming with only the clothes on their back,” Aminzada told KSL TV. “They have nothing else.” Her uncle created the coalition.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Randy Watt served in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002 as part of the National Guard Special Forces. He worked with many Afghans that were desperate to escape Afghanistan in August when the country abruptly fell into Taliban rule.

In August, U.S. allies that had helped him 20 years ago, and were still helping U.S. troops at the time, started calling him. They were desperate to flee. He put together a task force and started to work fast.

“These are good people,” Watt said, adding these are people that would likely be killed had they stayed in Afghanistan.

He says when the government collapsed, confusion set in, and the task force exploited that mayhem to get people to safety. “They have literally been snuck out of Afghanistan and taken to either third countries, where they were vetted, then moved to the United States,” Watt said.

The effort is personal to Watt not just because he knows many of the men and women he has helped save, but because of his grandfather, who immigrated from Afghanistan to the United States back in 2011. He’s one-quarter Pashtun.

West Jordan Police Chief Ken Wallentine, along with other government officials arrived at the event. Wallentine says these refugees, who have been through so much trauma, should get the help of a loving, caring community to support them.

“The best thing we can do is to do what we do best in Utah — that’s smile, welcome people to the community,” says Wallentine. “Help them feel safe and secure in our community and let them know we’re here to help them.”

Aminzada says that support is critical to making the refugees feel like they have a permanent, safe home here in Utah.

“We’re trying to help them build that sense of community and home.”

If you would like to help the refugees, you can do so by contacting the United Afghan-American Coalition or reaching out to Catholic Community Services or the International Rescue Committee.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Crews cleaning up after the shed and barn fire in Provo. (Credit: Provo Fire & Rescue)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

One horse and kitten killed in Provo barn fire

Fire crews responded to a barn and shed fire in southwest Provo Saturday evening with a kitten and a horse as the sole victims.
1 day ago
Flowers left for the 17-year-old victim....
Kiersten Nunez, KSL TV

Springville community recovers after two fatal shootings in one week

Tragedy strikes the small city of Springville again as police are investigating a second shooting in a matter of days after the apparent murder-suicide of a 17-year-old girl and her ex-boyfriend.
1 day ago
Life Light helicopter responding to a SAR in Utah County. (Credit: North Fork Fire Department)...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Utah County responds to two search and rescue calls over the weekend

Search and rescue crews responded to two separate calls of hikers needing help this weekend in Utah County canyons. 
1 day ago
...
Michael Houck and Lauren Steinbrecher, KSL TV

Human-caused wildfire erupts near Highway 40 in Wasatch County

Fire crews battled a fast-growing blaze along busy Highway 40 in Wasatch County Sunday, believed to be human-caused.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO - (Courtesy Deseret News) Three men were arrested on suspicion of firing shots at a Roy,...
Michael Houck, KSL TV

Man fatally shot on front porch in Springville, suspect turned himself in

A man was fatally shot on his front porch Saturday night with the suspect turning himself in, according to Springville police.
1 day ago
An Air Force C-17 Globemaster named “The Spirit of the Candy Bomber” escorted a C-54 to Spanish...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

Spanish Fork residents attend tribute to ‘Candy Bomber’

Residents in Spanish Fork remembered Col. Gail Halversen with a reenactment of his legendary candy drop.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Make Money Online Easily...

4 Ways that You Can Make Money Online Easily in Just a Few Clicks

Here are 4 ways that you can make money online easily in no time at all! Some are as simple as just a few clicks away.
tips to winterize your home...
Bonneville Digital SLC

Tips to Winterize Your Home | The Top 5 Ways You Can Prepare for the Cold Utah Winter Ahead

Before the snow hits, here are the top 5 tips to winterize your home to prepare for the cold Utah winter this year.
Welcome event held for hundreds of Afghan refugees as they arrive in Utah