More than 18 million people in Afghanistan are in urgent need of humanitarian aid following the United States military pulling out of the country and the collapse of the Afghan government. The Taliban’s takeover of provinces across the country has caused Afghans to flee their homes as they try to escape immediate danger from the new regime.
Subscribe to our Thursday newsletter and never miss a story about Chicago’s immigrant communities:
Borderless Magazine’s Diane Bou Khalil spoke about the situation with Sayeda Qader, cofounder of the Chicago-based Ketab Relief Organization, which is dedicated to providing relief to and amplifying the voices of Afghans. She says that mainstream media is not accurately showing what is happening to internally displaced Afghans and those trying to flee the country. Her own family in Afghanistan had been waiting at the Kabul airport for 29 hours trying to get on a flight.
“They haven’t been able to make it past the gate to the airport because there are so many people. You’re standing there and you can’t move. And the crowd just keeps pushing you further and further,” said Qader in an Instagram Live interview. “There are mothers and fathers and kids being injured because there’s a stampede. So what people are doing is they’re taking their babies and passing them toward the gate, and U.S. soldiers are picking them up and putting them on the other side of the gate so they can come to the United States eventually.”
View this post on Instagram
Plans are already underway to resettle Afghan refugees across the United States, in Canada and elsewhere, and grassroots efforts are calling for aid to help these families adjust to foreign environments. Emergency protests demanding that the United States take in more refugees are happening around the country, including one in Chicago this Sunday at Federal Plaza (219 S. Dearborn St.) led by local Afghans.
Below, Borderless Magazine crowdsourced suggestions of how to help Afghan refugees in Chicago and elsewhere as they resettle, as well as those still trying to leave Afghanistan. Afghans looking for legal resources can consult the International Refugee Assistance Project, which has various guides on how to relocate safely to the U.S. as well as a list of immigration service providers and attorneys.
Know of any nonprofits or groups providing essential services to Afghan refugees that we should add? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take action in Chicago:
- Learn how to co-sponsor a refugee family by getting in touch with RefugeeOne, or donate to support their programs, which include English language training and workforce development
- Support Agna Ghar, which has been advocating for survivors of gender-based violence in Afghanistan and Iraq to be included in the Priority 2 category in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program
- Donate to the Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance, which will partner with resettlement agencies and refugee service providers to support new arrivals
- Volunteer at the Free Store run by Refugee Community Connection, which helps families ease their transition to the city by providing them with basic needs. The group focuses on Special Immigrant Visa holders, who have worked with the U.S. military, often as interpreters
Support the resettlement of Afghan families in other areas:
- The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has posted information on how folks in the area can help as refugees arrive in the area
- The International Institute of St. Louis is accepting donations as it works to welcome and resettle families in the city
- Jewish Family and Community Services is coordinating efforts in East Bay, California and in Pittsburgh
- The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has volunteer sign-up forms for those living in Forth Worth, Houston, Seattle/Tacoma and Washington, D.C. / Maryland / Virginia
- Canada: the Canadian government website has information on how to volunteer and donate
Donate to organizations helping those in Afghanistan:
- Ketab Relief is organizing a GoFundMe to provide food packages, temporary housing, and financial assistance to families that have fled from the fighting to Kabul.
- The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security is distributing funds to support humanitarian visas for and the immediate evacuation of high-risk Afghan women. Email GIWPS public affairs director Sarah Rutherford at email@example.com to find out more
- Women for Afghan Women, which supports survivors of gender-based violence, is raising funds to evacuate thousands of its clients, staff and their families
- Afghan American Artists and Writers Association has organized a GoFundMe to assist Afghan artists in its network
- The International Women’s Media Foundation is asking for donations that will directly help women journalists who are attempting to flee Afghanistan
- No One Left Behind is raising funds to to help Afghan interpreters
- A grassroots group of volunteers and veterans are leading a crowdfunding effort to cover flights to fly people out of Afghanistan. Money has already been used to make multiple round trips with two planes in recent days
Non-monetary ways to help:
- Donate your frequent flyer miles or travel vouchers to Miles4Migrants to help fund a family’s flight to safety
- Contribute a text to writers Rahel Aima and Nadine Khalil, who will donate $250 to relief efforts for every submission (donations can also support grassroots efforts in Haiti or Lebanon). Submit by Sept. 15
- Share this document by Afghan Diaspora for Equality and Progress to those trying to figure out pathways to migration for Afghans
- Contact your representative or President Joe Biden. The International Rescue Committee has put together a form letter urging President Biden to protect at-risk Afghans. You can find your local representatives’ contact information using a tool like GovTrack.us.