US launches 'Sponsor Circle Program' to help Afghan refugees settle in

US launches 'Sponsor Circle Program' to help Afghan refugees settle in
A new sponsorship program aims to enable ordinary Americans to help Afghans resettle.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
30 October, 2021
Afghans wait in line to be processed in Qatar, where many are currently staying at US military facilities. (Getty)

A new program has been launched that will allow private groups of individuals to sponsor Afghan refugees and help them establish new lives in the US.

The Sponsor Circle Program, announced by the State Department this week, allows groups of at least five people to sponsor Afghan refugees. The groups - often neighbourhoods, faith groups like mosques, churches and synagogues, book clubs, veteran groups, as well as media outlets who want to help resettle their former colleagues - will go through a vetting process to ensure they are capable of the work required in the initial resettlement process.

"This program will create new opportunities for individuals and community groups across the country to directly support Afghans who have been relocated to the United States under Operation Allies Welcome,"  says a statement on the State Department website, referring its partnership with the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH), a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers, Inc., to support the launch of the Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans.

According to the program's website, this private public partnership includes multiple organisations, such as the International Rescue Committee and Airbnb.

"The program will enable groups of individuals to form sponsor circles to provide initial resettlement assistance to Afghans as they arrive and build new lives in local communities across the country," the statement said.

It should help alleviate much of the crowding at US military bases in the US and around the world, where thousands of Afghans have been waiting since August to get resettled.

So far, the program, which began development in March and was launched in September, has seen thousands of queries.

"This has never been done before. It’s a brand-new innovative program that centres on communities and hits on things we want to see more of," Danielle Grigsby, co-founder and director of external affairs at the Community Sponsorship Hub, which developed the Sponsor Circle Program, told The New Arab.

Grigsby and her colleagues have been overwhelmed by the interest from the public - a sign that Americans are eager to help at this time when resources and infrastructure for refugee resettlement is limited, Grigsby said.

Elizabeth Foydel, private sponsorship program director at the International Refugee Assistant Project, also applauded the support.

"At this moment of incredible outpouring of interest from the American public, and with constraints on the existing system, which was restricted under the Trump administration, we want to harness that interest to meet the capacity constraints," Foydel told The New Arab.