The International Institute of Los Angeles is offering a way for area residents to do more than be troubled by the current situation in Afghanistan, which has resulted in one of the largest evacuation efforts in history.
The nonprofit organization has already received and is preparing for the arrival of more refugees from Afghanistan and several other countries, and it needs support from the community to create a more comfortable transition for those arriving here.
The institute needs help — now. It provides comprehensive services to newly resettled individuals and families without sponsors, including temporary and long-term housing, airport reception, health screening and community orientation assistance in finding employment and childcare.
The group has long been funded by government contracts, which during the Trump administration saw a reduction in funding, while the Biden administration has raised the refugee admission ceiling to 62,500 individuals annually.
The needs will be greater for more arriving refugees and there will a bigger impact on the nonprofit that was founded in 1914 to help newly arrived immigrants to L.A. and surrounding areas, including Orange and San Bernardino counties.
Residents of South Pasadena, San Marino, Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale and surrounding communities are being asked by the IILA to lend a hand and act as temporary hosts (both short- and long-term), provide rental accommodation and donate gently used furniture and household items. People can also donate money to help these refugees make a transition to their new home.
Cambria Tortorelli, the new IILA president, explained that each refugee receives $1,025 per person (and an additional $200 per person to account for health issues) in order to pay for accommodations and other needs. Unfortunately, this amount is the same whether the person lands in affordable Mississippi or Los Angeles, where the cost of living far exceeds most of the nation.
“When these people arrive, they are shell-shocked,” Tortorelli said. “They are all grateful to be here, but overwhelmed. Their troubles are not over when they leave Kabul’s airport. Some have struggles just beginning when they get to the U.S.”
The institute has already welcomed about 50 Afghan refugees in the past two weeks, and Tortorelli said that the agency only receives as little as 24 hours’ notice of their arrivals. If they have no sponsors, the institute must work to help.
Refugee families are arriving every day, and more are expected in the future, including around 1,000 Christian refugees from Iran who are still being processed by immigration officials.
The institute is in the process of staffing up but needs volunteers to help support the large number of refugee arrivals. They are also in particular need of people who are able to host a multi-member family on a short- or long-term basis.
Anyone seeking to host refugees, volunteer or make a donation to help Afghan refugees while they are making this transition can visit iilosangeles.org/actnowforafghanallies.