Biden Plan has 775 Refugees From Afghanistan Headed to Nebraska

Sept. 16, 2021, 6 p.m. ·

Chris Tonniges
Lutheran Family Service of Nebraska President and CEO Chris Tonniges. (Photo from Zoom)

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Hundreds of refugees from Afghanistan could be on the way to Nebraska under a resettlement plan unveiled by President Biden this week and the arrivals could begin next week.

The Biden plan has 775 refugees from Afghanistan resettling in Nebraska, mostly in Lincoln and Omaha but in other parts of the state as well, including Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings and North Platte. Chris Tonniges is the CEO of Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska and said expanding the area where refugees can end up is going to help.

“The good thing is the level of support and the level of outreach of those communities to us has been significant and a ready willingness to welcome these folks to their communities, which is only going to help us deliver, not only on the surface, but deliver in providing a welcome home for the folks from Afghanistan,” Tonniges said.

Lutheran Family Services has been told to expect between 400-500 refugees over the next few months, including a large group as soon as next week.

“It appears as if we might get multiple folks and multiple families all at once and we’ve been told to prepare for as many as 100 within a very short time-frame, which will obviously put a strain on our systems and our programing, but we’re working with some really great partners in helping us facilitate what that short-term need is as well as fulfilling the long-term needs that we have.”

The first group of refugees are known as humanitarian parolees and will likely not have any family in Nebraska. Surrounding states are also expecting refugees from Afghanistan, including 695 in Iowa, 865 in Colorado and 490 in Kansas.