Windsor-Essex preparing to welcome Afghan refugees

Several refugee families will soon be arriving in Windsor-Essex as thousands flee the terror and chaos in Afghanistan.

The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County is helping facilitate the process through the federal government in the coming days.

“Certainly a heartbreaking situation for the people of Afghanistan,” says Director of Programs and Development, Fred Francis.

Fifteen people are expected to arrive to Windsor soon, according to Francis, and more can be expected.

“You can imagine it’s a sensitive process. The culture shock, it’s a very traumatic situation. No one rushes it,” Francis explains, “You’re dealing with people here. You’re dealing with people’s lives and well-being so its a very delicate process and it takes some time.”

The Taliban officially returned to power in Afghanistan after the final American soldiers withdrew from the country this past Monday night, bringing an end to 20 years of western intervention.

Afghan-Canadian Mariam Ahmad Shah of LaSalle says each passing day adds to the anxiety and fear she has for family and friends who remain in Afghanistan.

"The feeling we feel every day is just uneasy,” she says. “I’ve contacted many immigration lawyers, they’ve all told me that Canada has no evacuation plan.”

Ahmad Shah tells CTV News she remains hopeful the federal government will act swift to bring more people to Canada, saying she feels the upper level of government has “handicapped” the process. “They need to be brought to safety because the longer we wait, the higher risk they are to get killed and murdered.” Ahmad Shah says, “It’s heartbreaking to know that your family is going through this situation, and as a Canadian what can I do?”

Francis says the Multicultural Council is ready to assist with the resettlement process from health and education to social or any other needs refugees have.

“The federal government provides all the resources necessary for these people and the resettlement process.” Francis explains, “If more needs have to be met or more resources are going to be asked for, we will ask the general public.”

Francis adds, “We’re very lucky to live in a diverse community. We’re a welcoming community and the people of this city are very kind and generous, so, I have no doubt they’re going to make the people of Afghanistan relocated here, feel at home.”