No refuge: Afghans in Las Cruces say they need more help in their fight for survival

16 people, in their own words, describe life in the country that invaded their home

By: - April 1, 2022 1:08 pm

Noorullah Maswhani sits in front of the couch at his two-bedroom apartment in Las Cruces, one he shares with his wife and three young daughters. (Photo by Santana Ochoa for Source New Mexico)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Despite all he’s been through, Noorullah Maswhani says he is grateful.

Grateful for the help he’s received from Lutheran Family Services and, by extension, the federal government. Grateful for the rescue of himself and his family from Afghanistan at a moment of collapse. And, on a recent Thursday, grateful for the company of a Source New Mexico photographer who took his portrait.

Maswhani was fighting for the Afghan military against the Taliban when, he says, a large bomb exploded and took his legs. The struggles over the last three months here are immense, he says.

Over a generous meal of spiced rice, Afghan naan, steamed spinach and milk tea, Maswhani explained in limited English that the help he receives today is simply not enough for his family to survive.

He is one of 225 Afghans who arrived in Las Cruces, a city that had never before resettled refugees from the Middle East.

Sixteen of them spoke with Source New Mexico in recent weeks about their challenges acclimating to life in Las Cruces and their fears about surviving there. They also described failures to receive basic services from the agencies paid to resettle them and all levels of government.

Below, you’ll find Source New Mexico’s stories in an ongoing series about these people and the institutions that are supposed to be helping them.

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Patrick Lohmann
Patrick Lohmann

Patrick Lohmann has been a reporter since 2007, when he wrote stories for $15 apiece at a now-defunct tabloid in Gallup, his hometown. Since then, he's worked at UNM's Daily Lobo, the Albuquerque Journal and the Syracuse Post-Standard.