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Ways You Can Help Afghan Refugees Now

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The situation in Afghanistan is dire for anyone not ascribing to the Taliban way, but it is especially dangerous for our allies there who helped the U.S. over the past 20 years and for women and female children who fear a sharp return back to the misogynistic and abusive dark ages.

The footage shared yesterday of people desperately clinging to outgoing planes, the recordings of women screaming for help, the emails and text messages Afghan colleagues are sending U.S. journalists and political leaders…all illustrate a nightmare scenario so many people now face in a country without real U.S. protection for the first time in two decades.

Though President Joe Biden did not act alone in getting us to this moment, he is receiving a healthy and deserved dose of criticism for the execution of our withdrawal and ultimate betrayal of allies we’ve so far left behind. However, the 20 years in Afghanistan have been under the watch of four different presidents and not one has been innocent, including former President Donald Trump who is responsible for negotiating the February 2020 withdrawal deal with the Taliban but without the Afghan government.  

Still, none of our bickering and finger pointing helps those who need our help most right now. While we have plenty of time to argue and assign blame, time is no longer a luxury the Afghan people have.

You can sink into sadness and rage about the current situation, and that would be understandable, or you can choose to channel that energy into something productive.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Mallika Panorat/EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid)

Here are some ways you can help:

The International Rescue Committee of Northern California launched a Soft Landing Fund effort Monday to support Afghan refugee families relocated here in the region. The broader organization has extensive experience specifically relocating people from Afghanistan; they have done so for more than 16,000 Afghan SIV recipients since Congress approved the program in 2006. More than 9,500 SIVs have resettled in Northern California since 2008.

Expecting at least another 1,700 evacuees by the end of the year, the IRC’s Soft Landing Fund will help ease the burden of housing and utility costs for refugees as they find their footing here in the U.S. Donations to the fund can be made here.    

Women for Women International helps female survivors of war and conflict by helping them build social and economic skills that are then passed on to other women in transition. They build off the successes of women who live in the countries they help, establishing support groups for training and resources. According to their website, a very generous person offered to match up to $500,000 in donations to help women in Afghanistan as they face increased violence under Taliban rule. People can donate on a one-time or monthly basis by visiting here.   

The Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay group is committed to helping settle 55 Afghan refugees; 23 are soon to arrive from Fort Lee and another 33 are awaiting departure from Afghanistan. The organization has already settled 40 people from the region over the past month. They are asking for both financial and volunteer assistance to support their efforts; details about how you can donate time or money can be found here. One way to donate is by purchasing specific items evacuees will need from the group’s Amazon Wish List 

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has set up a “Neighbors in Need: Afghan Allies” fund that will provide housing assistance, clothing and other basic needs for refugees as they arrive. This fund also has a generous matching offer up to $10,000 in donations, which can be made here.

If you or someone you know is a federal employee from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department, there is a call for volunteers to help process Special Immigrant Visas. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told CNN that the Department of Defense is looking to relocate up to 30,000 Afghan SIV applicants to the U.S., which will require a good deal of paperwork and volunteers to get the process going. 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.