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Former US presidents unite to support Afghans

4 October 20210 comments

A group of former US Presidents have come together in an unprecedented bipartisan move to support Afghan refugees resettling in America.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — along with former first-ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama — are serving as honorary co-chairs for the group ‘Welcome.US’.

Welcome.US said in a media release that it is aimed at engaging “all Americans to welcome and support refugees, beginning with the individuals and families who fled Afghanistan” following the American withdrawal from the nation in recent weeks.

After the biggest military evacuation in history, the Biden administration is now resettling more than 60,000 Afghan refugees in the coming weeks.

About 17 per cent of people who have already arrived are US citizens and permanent residents who can and can go straight to their homes without first passing through military bases that have been set up to receive the evacuees.

The rest will go to the bases to receive medical screening – including COVID-19 vaccinations — before they’re relocated to communities around the country.

Welcome.US has gathered the former presidents – along with a bipartisan group of governors, including Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan and Colorado Democratic Governor Jared Polis, as well as other leaders – to serve as a central point of contact for public and private efforts to help in the massive effort to help Afghan refugees as they establish lives in the US.

It will connect and coordinate efforts among state and local governments, as well as non-profit organisations, corporate partners, universities and other groups, according to the group.

The initiative will provide grants to non-profit organisations and will launch a six-figure advertising campaign “to highlight the need for all Americans to join the thousands of people who’ve already stepped up to welcome our new Afghan neighbours as they get settled and build their new lives.”

The group said they had already seen support for housing via Airbnb; meals via Instacart; grants from Walmart, Starbucks and Microsoft; and ad credits from Facebook to promote the organisation.

“Thousands of Afghans stood with us on the front lines to push for a safer world, and now they need our help,” the Bushes said in a statement,

“We are proud to support Welcome.US and the work to help Afghan families get settled and build new lives. We stand ready to show our new Afghan neighbours and the rest of the world how a welcoming and generous spirit forms the backbone of what makes our country so great.”

Clinton and Obama joined President Joe Biden on Saturday for an observance of the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Bush spoke at another 9/11 observance event in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris.

Bush and Clinton came together in 2005 to raise funds for those impacted by the tsunami in Indonesia and again in 2010 to establish the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to aid with long-term recovery following a catastrophic earthquake in that nation.

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