Local charities working to help relocate Afghan refugees coming to metro Atlanta

ATLANTA — North Georgia charities are preparing for an influx of Afghan refugees as tens of thousands of them head to the U.S.

Metro Atlanta is designated as an official refugee relocation, especially in and around the city of Clarkston.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot learned the charities’ biggest challenge right now is housing.

There aren’t a lot of apartments or rental homes out there for the refugees who will eventually come to the area.

But the charities Elliot spoke with said they’ll be ready.

“One thing you’ll notice with this group of people is they’re extremely resilient,” said Essence Vinson, senior director of refugee services for Catholic Charities Atlanta.

Catholic Charities has been helping resettle refugees for more than 60 years.


Vinson said they help these families find places to live, jobs and even schools for the children. They also do what they can to help them adjust to life in a new country.

Even though they are a Catholic organization, Vinson said they help people of all faiths.

“They’ve gone through wars. They’ve gone through famines. They’ve gone through torture unfortunately. They’ve gone through a lot, so having to adjust to a new environment, is just another obstacle, but it’s not something they can’t overcome,” Vinson said.

Noor Smadi is the executive director of Ethaar USA, a Muslim organization that, like Catholic charities, helps refugees from around the world resettle in north Georgia.

“We’re expecting a lot of families coming in,” Smadi said.

Smadi said they not only help with refugees mental and spiritual health, but also help them learn English, how to drive a car and find them work so they can take care of themselves.

“That’s really the goal of Ethaar is to help those people who kind of have a hiccup in their life right now keep pushing and moving forward now,” Smadi said.

Both Ethaar and Catholic Charities said they’re having trouble finding permanent residences for refugee, so a lot of them are actually staying in AirBnBs or Vrbos for now.

Both organizations said they’ll need a lot of donations and volunteers over the next few months.