EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The first of about 250 Afghan refugees have made it to Rhode Island, including Amin Faqiry and his family, who landed at T.F Green Airport on Saturday.
The former combat interpreter fled after the Taliban took over Afghanistan and its capital of Kabul.
Faqiry spent nearly a decade helping the U.S. Military during the War on Terror, but he says he is ready for a fresh start.
“We’re just going to settle in Rhode Island, in Providence, and I’m going to start a new life like a newborn baby,” he said.
According to Faqiry, he and his family had been looking to come to the United States for a long time, but their plans changed after the Taliban took control.
“If I had not gotten out, my life would have been in danger,” he added.
Faqiry’s family has had to clear a number of hurdles to get into the country, but local agencies say the challenges aren’t over just yet.
Kathy Cloutier, executive director of DORCAS International Institute of Rhode Island, said the process of planning how to welcome these families has been hard.
“It’s only just beginning. There’s so much to prepare as their sponsor ahead of time, and the resources are so limited right now,” she explained.
Cloutier said that while federal funding is on the way to assist, it may not be enough for the 250 refugees coming to Rhode Island. The state is expected to receive roughly $500,000; $2,000 per person for housing, transportation and other needs.
“There is federal funding coming down to assist, but quite frankly, it’s not going to be enough,” Cloutier said.
“We’re only guaranteed money through the first quarter,” she continued. “The budget is only approved through December.”
Despite the ongoing issues, Cloutier said she is grateful for the outpouring of support from local groups, Gov. Dan McKee’s office, and the community.