Some 200 Afghan refugees are on their way to parts of Kentucky, including Warren and Daviess counties, after escaping violence in the Taliban-controlled country.
Some will arrive as early as next week in Bowling Green and other communities within a 100 mile radius of the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky. Half of the Afghans are expected to go to Owensboro.
All of the refugees were already in the process of resettling in the U.S. before the chaos seen at the Kabul airport in recent days.
The International Center's executive director, Albert Mbanfu, says many of the refugees helped American forces in the 20-year war by filling a number of roles, including interpreters.
“Many of them have fought side by side with the U.S. military. That’s what people fail to understand," Mbanfu said. "They were on the warfront with the U.S. military guiding them with language and cultural issues.”
Mbanfu says the Afghans were thoroughly vetted before being allowed to work with U.S. troops, and will undergo a second round of vetting at military camps in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Texas before being resettled in local communities. They’ll also be tested for COVID-19 and receive at least the first dose of the vaccine.
Once Afghan families and individuals begin arriving in Bowling Green and elsewhere, Mbanfu says the International Center will need mentors and host families to support them.