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Refugee community has “desperate needs” during COVID-19 pandemic and after earthquake

Posted at 8:37 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 14:19:11-04

There are more than 100 refugee families in Salt Lake County that those at the Catholic Community Center said are in desperate need of help.

For 26 years, Aden Batar has helped out the CCS and now directs their refugee program.

Batar said on average, Utah used to get about 1,300 refugees a year, but in the past recent years they’ve been getting about 500 refugees yearly.

The most recent family arrived from Afghanistan last week.

“The refugees that are coming are tested before they board the plane and also when they come on to the port of entry,” said Batar.

Refugees test negative for COVID19 before they come to Utah, said Batar, but the worry they have is how to help the families once they get here.

Right now, Batar said they are working with 100 families and about 200 school-aged children.

“There’s a lot of refugees who have lost their jobs that are staying home for their children and don’t have any income coming in,” said Batar.

The CCS is working on ways to help these families make sure their bills are paid, and keep enough food on their tables—efforts they were already making, and then the COVID19 pandemic and earthquake hit Utah.

“This reminds them about them memories and the war, what they’ve experienced and it’s kind of like a war zone what’s happening in our country today dealing with this pandemic,” said Batar.

Some of the supplies Batar said they desperately need include, old laptops for children to do their homework with and financial donations while they wait for federal funds.

“It takes time for those funds to be accessed, but we need emergency funding that these families can access right away,” said Batar.

An urgency, Batar hopes people will realize as they reach out in efforts to help their community members.

“We need to, all of us, come together to do what we can to mitigate what is going on with this COVID19,” said Batar.