In the days leading up to and since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on August 15, Afghans concerned about mounting violence and about the return to austere rule have been trying to flee the country en masse.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than half a million people have already been displaced by the violence in Afghanistan so far this year, many of whom are women and children.
“This latest situation is only adding more suffering to an already tragic situation, in which over 5 million Afghans are displaced in the country and across borders,” the UNHCR said in a recent statement about Afghanistan.
While Afghanistan is not a place many U.S. leisure travelers know from personal experience, it is one Americans are all too familiar with for the U.S.-led invasion there in 2001 that ousted the insurgents from power, and for the 20 years since that the U.S. has had a military presence in Afghanistan.
Many Afghans have resettled in the United States, and Afghan communities have become an integral part of American cities and neighborhoods. If there is anything this pandemic has taught us, it is that no matter how far apart we are, we are all inherently connected.
For those watching the events unfold from abroad and wondering what they can do, there are numerous ways to help. Here are the organizations looking for funding and other assistance.
Women for Afghan Women
This New York–based organization is the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan and is “dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls.” The organization supports education access, vocational training, language classes, driver’s education, youth leadership programs, and legal support, among other services.
“Over the past few weeks, we have been working relentlessly, 24/7, to keep our clients, staff, and families alive and safe. We are evacuating centers, pausing operations, and continually assessing risks. We are working day and night to provide safe shelter, resources, and aid to keep the thousands of women, children, families, and the staff who are under our care,” Women for Afghan Women (WAW) said in a statement.
Those interested in helping WAW can donate online, and WAW has also assembled an online document that lists resources for helping Afghan refugees.
International Women’s Media Foundation
Based in Washington, D.C., the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) provides training, resources, grants, and fellowships to support women journalists.
“Right now, women journalists in Afghanistan are among the most at-risk populations in the country for reasons of revenge, retribution, and long-standing prejudice against their voices in any public arena,” the organization said on its site.
The NGO is asking for donations for women journalists in Afghanistan as well as those attempting to flee.
“If we do not support these women and journalists in every way possible in this moment, we are at risk of having journalism diminish and disappear from Afghanistan,” the IWMF stated.
Pars Equality Center
This California-based nonprofit organization supports immigrants and refugees with free and low-cost legal services, social assistance, and financial aid for college. The organization is currently conducting outreach for individuals in Afghanistan in need of legal assistance. Those who want to assist in the Pars Equality Center’s efforts can also donate online.
International Refugee Assistance Project
“Everyone should have a safe place to live and a safe way to get there,” is the motto of this New York–based nonprofit that supports family reunifications, legal services and litigation, as well as policy and advocacy for displaced persons. IRAP has launched an Action for Afghanistan campaign, for which it is accepting donations and is also encouraging supporters to contact elected officials to voice support for displaced Afghan people.
The International Rescue Committee
This global group based in New York has a long-standing history of relief work in Afghanistan, where it provides humanitarian aid through supplying tents, clean water, and sanitation, safe spaces for education, and resources for employment and development projects. The IRC also works to resettle Afghan refugees in the United States by helping to find housing, employment, health care, education, and other services. The group is reaching out for donations and is asking that concerned citizens email the White House to ensure that Presiden Bident protects at-risk Afghans.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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Michelle Baran Michelle Baran is the senior travel news editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, pandemic coverage, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.