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International Center of Kentucky won't meet refugee resettlement goal this federal fiscal year

Becca Schimmel
Albert Mbanfu is the executive director of the International Center of Kentucky.

The Warren County-based International Center of Kentucky won’t reach its goal of resettling 500 refugees by the end of the current federal fiscal year.

Albert Mbanfu, the center's executive director, said that so far, his agency has resettled a total of 116 refugees this fiscal year.

"If you look at the pace at which we are resettling the refugees. You’ll understand that by the end of the fiscal year we will not even have up to half of the number that we were excited and accepted to bring into Bowling Green," Mbanfu explained during a recent community meeting.

The current federal fiscal year ends on September 30. .

Mbanfo said only seven refugees were resettled in Warren County in April, and 18 arrived in May.

The current number of refugees does not include the 353 Afghan nationals who came to Bowling Green following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan last fall. Mbanfo said all relocated Afghan nationals have found permanent housing.

While the International Center of Kentucky is still working on resettlement efforts this year, plans are also being put in place for the next fiscal year.

Mbanfo said his agency will aim to resettle 450 refugees during federal fiscal year beginning October 1, 2022. That figure, even if reached, would be a slight decline from the number of refugee resettlements in Bowling Green in past years.

Mbanfo hopes to resettle 250 individuals from Africa, 150 from Asia, and 50 from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Iraq.

Still, Mbanfo didn't sound overly optimistic about ultimately reaching that goal.

"If we can receive all of them, I think we’ll be proud as a community of welcoming refugees and immigrants," he stressed. "Again, we really hope that we can resettle this number but I’m not really sure. If you look at what history has indicated for us.”

Former student intern Alana Watson rejoined WKU Public Radio in August 2020 as the Ohio Valley ReSource economics reporter. She transitioned to the station's All Things Considered Host in July of 2020. Watson is a 2017 graduate of Western Kentucky University and has a B.A. in Broadcasting Journalism. She also has her M.A in Communications from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. Watson is a Nashville native and has interned at WPLN-FM in Nashville. In 2019, she won a Tennessee AP Broadcaster & Editors Award for her sports feature on Belmont University's smallest point guard. While at WKU Public Radio she won Best College Radio Reporter in 2016 from the Kentucky Ap Broadcasters Association for her work on post-apartheid South Africa. Watson was previously at Wisconsin Public Radio as thier 2nd Century Fellow where she did general assignment and feature reporting in Milwaukee.