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Efforts Underway To Resettle 900 Afghan Evacuees In Mass.

Afghan refugees line up for food in a dining hall at Fort Bliss' Doña Ana Village, in New Mexico, where they are being housed, Sept. 10, 2021. (David Goldman/AP)
Afghan refugees line up for food in a dining hall at Fort Bliss' Doña Ana Village, in New Mexico, where they are being housed, Sept. 10, 2021. (David Goldman/AP)

As many as 900 Afghan evacuees could be bound for Massachusetts, where efforts are underway to help prepare for their arrival and resettlement.

The Baker administration said it is still awaiting details on when and where the groups would arrive, but said it has been informed by the federal government that the state could receive up to 900 evacuees.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Wednesday that the federal government is looking to move "as quickly and efficiently as we can" to resettle thousands of Afghans undergoing medical processing and other final steps at U.S. military bases.

"We know there are communities across this country and resettlement agencies across this country that are looking forward to welcoming our country's newest residents, to incorporating them into their communities, and to showing them all that this country and that American life has to offer," Price said during a press briefing. "So it is not in our interest, it's not in their interest for them to reside on a U.S. military base or any other official installation for any longer than is necessary, and I think you'll see that we're able to administer these final steps with a good deal of efficiency."

Axios reported Thursday that the initial group of evacuees includes around 37,000 Afghans, and the number that each state is expected to receive ranges from 10 each in Alabama and Mississippi to 5,300 in California. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said his state has been asked to accept as many as 310 refugees.

Massachusetts, according to Gov. Charlie Baker's office, is coordinating with the federal government and local nonprofits that serve refugees. Groups are preparing in various parts of the state, including in the Merrimack Valley, where UMass Lowell is working with the International Institute of New England, and Bristol County, where Congressman Jake Auchincloss' office said the Attleboro Council on Human Rights is in communication with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services.

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