St. Louis looks to bring in hundreds of Afghan refugees to boost declining population

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:43 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The International Institute of St. Louis hopes to bring 1000 additional Afghan refugees to the St. Louis area in the next three years.

“St. Louis is the place they can call home,” says CEO Arrey Obenson.

Obenson said bringing in new immigrants will boost the region’s economy and declining population. So far, 600 families have moved to the area following the Taliban’s invasion of Afghanistan.

“The only one way we can bridge the gap with the decline in population is bringing in the immigrant population,” says Obenson. If you look across America to the cities that are growing, they are essentially growing because of the immigrant population that is resettling there.”

The organization is joining forces with other non-profits and groups to provide incentives to Afghans who relocate including cell phones, tablets, education, and a community center in the works.

“We hope that it is going to be attractive for more Afghans to come, says Obenson. Just like the case of the Bosnians. We welcomed 1,000 Bosnians but now we have 40,000 Bosnians in the City of St. Louis.”

As of today, there are 185 Afghan families with permanent housing in the St. Louis region thanks to the efforts of organizations like the International Institute.

“There’s nothing that reassures them that this is the place that they can call home than somebody who understands their culture.”