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Hampton Roads Afghan refugees are seeking help from local outreach groups

A Newport News refugee outreach group is getting reaction from Afghan families in Hampton Roads.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Taliban forces have almost completely taken over Afghanistan. On Monday, authorities reported at least seven people died at the Kabul airport while trying to flee.

Large crowds of people swarmed U.S. military planes on the tarmac as they tried to take off. Thousands of American troops are now working to secure the airfield.

Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden commented on the chaos. He said he stands "squarely behind" the decision to withdraw U.S. forces by the end of the month. He said he could either withdraw troops now or send thousands back for a "Third Decade" of war.

"American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war, and dying in a war, that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves," said President Biden. 

Now Afghanistan families in Hampton Roads are also fighting to get their loved ones back to the United States.

In 2018, Jake Hughes and Patti Cubstead started a grassroots organization called New American Outreach Ministry or NAOMi in Newport News. 

Its purpose is to help refugees develop their lives in the United States. They said many of them are from Afghanistan.

“Here on the Peninsula, we have hundreds and hundreds of families who are from Afghanistan and Pakistan who are directly affected," said NAOMi Director Patti Cubstead. 

The duo are now hearing reactions from Afghanistan families living in Hampton Roads after U.S. troops left and the Taliban took over.

“The fear for their family members back home in Afghanistan and Pakistan is so real because right now they can’t even go out of their homes to get provisions or water or anything. They are trapped inside of their homes for fear of what could happen to them with the Taliban," said Cubstead. 

Cubstead and Hughes said many Hampton Roads residents who have green cards can’t come back to the United States.

“They went home and unfortunately, the airports are closed they are stuck there. These are people who would be able to go back-and-forth with a passport just like you or I and they are community members and they are trapped right now," said Cubstead. 

“It’s been very sad. I had tea with one family today. He has three brothers who work for our government over there, and they’re still there. She had one brother who worked as an interpreter for the army and their four brothers with their wives and kids are stuck there now,” said Chairman Jake Hughes. 

On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam posted on social media that the commonwealth is ready and willing to accept thousands of Afghanistan refugees.

The outreach also wants to welcome new and returning refugees back safely.

“My hope is that we are able to help those who are American green card holders but also we are able to help those that we have promised immigration status to and we at Naomi would love to help them and provide for them," said Cubstead. 

Governor Ralph Northam’s office sent 13News Now a statement regarding the number of Afghan refugees they have helped in Virginia:

"Since July 30th, more than 2,000 Afghan citizens and family members have been processed by federal officials at Fort Lee. Fort Lee is serving as the port of entry for these families, who are then resettled throughout the country (including some in Virginia). Virginia is now home to approximately 10 percent of the 73,000 Afghans who have been permanently resettled in the United States, since 2006," said Senior Communications Advisor Alena Yarmosky.

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