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Governor honors 900 Afghan refugees now living in Utah

Posted at 6:46 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 20:46:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The governor announced Wednesday that there are around 900 refugees from Afghanistan in the state of Utah.

“To put all of this together so quickly it was breathtaking to watch,” Governor Spencer Cox said. “We are proud of the good work that they're continued continuing to do.”

Refugees who have flooded to Utah in the past few months expressed they're gratitude for the generosity of the state.

Read - Utah nonprofit helps Afghan refugees connect through soccer

“Overall, the process which was which happened was completely surreal and unpredictable," said Saida Emami, a refugee whose entire family was brought to Utah. "We're just trying to take each step one day at a time because we're still learning the culture we're still learning and meeting the new people.”

The refugees were also honored on the house floor by Representative Moss.

Refugees are also starting to work in sectors they're familiar with or be trained in new ones.

“We were able to to work together to really bring resources to the table from the private and the public sector,” said Asha Parekh from the Department of Workforce Services and refugee services. “We are able to make this work more smoothly.”

Read - Sponsors sought for Afghan refugees to come to Utah

For some refugees, Utah is already starting to feel like home.

“We have some friends also now so that's really amazing," Emami said. "It's a good feeling recovering...and [it's] really nice here seeing this really gives me a lot of help.”

Governor Cox said the support with refugees is something he is extremely proud of.

"It's definitely something I'm proud of," he said. "I would be lying if I said I didn't lose any sleep because I did lose some sleep over this one. It was a very big number and so I am very proud of the people who did all of the work. I'm not taking any of the credit.”

The biggest hurdle is permanent housing for some of these refugees.

The Governor announced today that the state is about 50 houses short and called on the public or anyone who is able to help find housing for refugee families in need.