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Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. NJ Gov. Murphy sets up Afghan Refugee Assistance task force

| 02 Sep 2021 | 12:15

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has established a task force to aid Afghan refugees coming into the state.

    Murphy, a Democrat, signed an executive order creating the Task Force on Afghan Refugee Assistance with the aim of ensuring New Jersey is prepared to receive and assist those coming into the state.

    New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is currently receiving Afghans, with military officials proposing taking up to 9,500 people for up to a year.

    Murphy had earlier said the state would assist with refugees. Friday’s order is the first public action taken to address the influx of people. It’s unclear how many so far have come into the state.

    The state’s adjutant general and commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Brig. Gen. Dr. Lisa Hou will head the task force. Hou is an Afghanistan veteran and served as a field surgeon and the sole medical provider on an Afghanistan National Army base, according to Murphy.

    She was responsible for providing advanced medical care for more than 600 coalition soldiers, contractors and foreign nationals in the combat zone, the administration said in a statement.

    Among the responsibilities of the task force will be: managing internal efforts among state departments to welcome and support refugees and special immigrant visa holders; coordinating communications with the federal government; and overseeing emergency health care services among other things.

    Refugee support groups welcomed the news.

    Avigail Ziv, the executive director for New York and New Jersey of the International Rescue Committee, said she looks forward to working with the task force.

    Alain Mentha, the executive director of Welcome Home Jersey City, called it ``excellent news`` and said there is a lot of good will in New Jersey that the task force could help refugee groups capitalize on.

    - The Associated Press