Bethany Christian Services

Bethany Christian Services is adding a new program in Reading for transitional living for migrant children. 

A group of Afghan refugees is expected to arrive in Lancaster County in the next three weeks, a local resettlement agency announced Friday.

At least 30 refugees from Afghanistan are expected to be resettled in Lancaster by Bethany Christian Services. The resettlement agency said it is expecting at least 30 units, with one unit representing a number that could range from one individual to a multi-person family.

“They are going through the vetting process right now. We don’t have an exact time or details of when they will come. It will be two or three weeks before they arrive,” said Mark Unger, regional director of Bethany Christian Services in Pennsylvania.

Bethany Christian Services is a global nonprofit that supports refugee resettlement and provides social services to children and families.

The vetting process includes biometric and background checks by government interagency partners, medical attention and vaccination.

Meanwhile, Bethany is getting its team ready and asking for support to help the refugee families adapt to life in their new country.

“We work with the (federal) Office of Refugee Settlement and take into consideration not clumping everybody in one geographic area in one town, but rather in communities where there is support,” Unger said.

Headquartered in Washington D.C., the Office of Refugee Resettlement is a program of the Administration for Children and Families that offers support for refugees seeking a safe place within the United States

Bethany announced that, in addition to the group of refugees coming to Lancaster, they will be resettling 30 units in Allentown, 25 in Jenkintown and 50 in Pittsburgh.

The most difficult task, according to Allison Preston-Smith, Bethany’s public relations manager, is finding affordable housing for these refugee families. Such housing is generally in short supply.

Afghan refugees don’t have access to government support because they are here on humanitarian parole as new immigrants. They are being temporarily housed at military bases until their screening is completed. They are then sent to places that either have an Afghan community or with relatives who had already settled in the United States.

Bethany welcomes donations for its refugee program and is looking for help with the incoming Afghan refugees. It’s Lancaster office, at 1681 Crown Ave., isn’t equipped to accept donations of large household items, but is accepting cash donations and gift cards.

To donate, or to learn about the items needed, visit www.Bethany.org or call 1-800-BETHANY.

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