Mayor Jim Suttle waited Tuesday night next to an Omaha Steaks kiosk inside the Eppley Airfield terminal to greet 11 of the city's newest residents.
The Bhutanese refugees were arriving from a camp in Nepal after fleeing from violence in their homeland.
After flights that included three layovers, they walked down an airport corridor about 10:30 to find the smiling mayor.
"Welcome to Omaha," Suttle said as he shook hands with the refugees. "Glad you're here."
Suttle gave a boy a two-handed high-five. Later, he posed for photos with the refugees beside a banner that read "Welcome to Omaha, Nebraska."
Refugees bolster the city's economy, Suttle said.
"Diversity is a good thing," he said.
About 500 refugees settle in Omaha and Lincoln each year, said Ruth Henneman, the vice president of development at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska.
For the next 90 days, a caseworker will try to ease the refugees' transition to a new culture, helping them to navigate bus routes and find work, for example.
"They just want a better life for their kids," Henneman said.
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