Elizabeth mayor says city can’t help
Efforts to resettle some of the thousands of Afghan refugees already in New Jersey have been hit by a problem in Elizabeth, where the city’s Democratic leader recently said severe damage from the storm had already depleted local resources.
About 400 residents of Elizabeth, including 21 Syrian / Afghan refugee families, remained displaced nearly three weeks after Ida, Mayor Chris Bollwage said in a letter to the International Rescue Committee on September 17.
The city has struggled to maintain short-term housing for the displaced people and has asked the IRC to relocate the refugees to other neighboring communities.
There are about 9,500 Afghan refugees at McGuire Dix Lakehurst Joint Base, a month since efforts to help those fleeing the Taliban began, military officials say.
The estimate given by a Defense Department spokesperson on Tuesday was around a thousand more refugees than on September 10, during a visit by US Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, as reported by Cherry Hill Courier-Post.
An Afghan Refugee Assistance Task Force established by Governor Phil Murphy on August 27 reports directly to the governor’s office.
When asked about the current refugee population, the governor’s office referred New Jersey 101.5 to the Department of Defense.
“We will do all we can for the people most of whom are here temporarily, and for the people who will end up staying here, we will do all we can to get them settled,” Murphy said at a state briefing in September. 20 when asked for an update on refugees.
The joint base is one of four US military installations designated to house Afghan refugees during the current humanitarian crisis – the other three being in Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas.
The common base previously housed around 4,000 Yugoslav refugees in 1999.
Meanwhile, residents of Elizabeth displaced by the storm were still waiting to be able to return to their apartments on Tuesday, according to a city spokesperson.
14 units were expected to recover electricity this week and another 40 units next week, the spokesperson said.
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