The University of Maryland (UMD) announced Tuesday it will offer Afghan refugee families temporary housing for up to a year in partnership with the nonprofit International Rescue Committee (IRC).
UMD will host families that consist of Afghan humanitarian parolees evacuated through Operation Allies Welcome and Special Immigrant Visa holders. All the families that will be staying on campus underwent extensive U.S. government processing, including background checks and medical screenings.
The families faced the risk of persecution and violence in Afghanistan due to their work alongside U.S. personnel in jobs such as translators, drivers, and cultural advisers, according to UMD officials.
“We look forward to providing on-campus housing and being good neighbors to Afghan families,” UMD President Darryll Pines said in a press release. “They are U.S. allies who have braved a terrifying situation, and we are happy that we can offer them a welcoming community as they seek permanent housing.”
The IRC will assist the evacuees in securing permanent housing, employment, counseling, education, and social services to support their transition to the United States.
“Innovative community partnerships are key to ensuring that refugees settle in safely, securely, and with hope for the future,” Ruben Chandrasekar, executive director of the IRC in Maryland, stated in a press release. “We are grateful for the University of Maryland’s welcome of Afghan evacuees, which is reflective of our state’s broader welcoming spirit.”
While several higher education institutions announced they would host Afghan refugees last year, the UMD initiative is the first of its kind at a public university to host entire families.