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

Cottonwood High lines up for a free kick following a fair catch against Jordan High. (KSL Sports)...
Andrew Adams

Coach, kicker & official reflect on Cottonwood High’s rare, game-winning play

Cottonwood defeated Jordan High after the Colts attempted and converted a free kick for three points with 12 seconds left following a fair catch on a punt.
2 months ago
...
Karah Brackin

Utah Veterans head to Washington D.C. for ‘trip of a lifetime’

75 veterans left Salt Lake City for Washington D.C. Tuesday morning.
2 months ago
Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, introduces himself as a member of a n...
Ashley Imlay, KSL.com & Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio

Supreme Court declines to hear Utah gun rights activist’s appeal to overturn bump stock ban

A prominent Utah gun rights activist has lost his bid to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal bump stock ban.
2 months ago
Yvette Rodier, shooting survivor...
Amy Donaldson, KSL Podcasts

LETTER PODCAST: Victim says bullet wounds were easiest part of recovery

When Yvette Rodier woke up in a hospital, she knew, even before anyone told her, that her friend, Zachary Snarr, was dead.
2 months ago
Housing construction....
Ladd Egan

Unaffordable Utah: Mortgage rates climb again as buyers look for price reductions

Utah's housing market is whiplashing as last year's buying frenzy seems to have slowed down to signs of a recession.
2 months ago
FILE...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt: How cybercriminals use social engineering to get us to hand over our sensitive info

You can have the strongest, most secure password in the history of cybersecurity, but the bad guys know there is one weakness they can use to hack into your system - you!
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Welcome event held for hundreds of Afghan refugees as they arrive in Utah