After the U.S. started to pull its troops out of Afghanistan, the Taliban started taking over the country’s provinces. On August 15, the Taliban took over from the Afghan government by entering the capital city of Kabul. This left residents in a state of instability and distress. Earlier that day, the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country to the UAE. The U.S. government was also forced to evacuate its diplomats and shut down its embassies.
On Wednesday, August 18th, President Biden promised to get every American out of Afghanistan by the end of August, which he has since repeated.
The Biden Administration has received intense criticism for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan without a formal plan. Many people are calling on the administration to safely relocate U.S. Citizens, Legal Permanent Residents, and Afghan allies, translators, and others who are pre-approved for special Afghan immigrant visas (SIVs).
A group of senators wrote a letter to the President, urging him to create specific visa options for Afghan refugees. The letter particularly focuses on the many women and girls who are at most risk of harm under Taliban rule.
We have been working behind the scenes to advocate for emergency options for Afghan refugees.
We are also taking on pro bono emergency cases and are helping many families trying to evacuate from Afghanistan.
We hope to see an immediate plan from the Biden Administration sometime soon.
In the meantime, here are a few ways you can help the residents of Afghanistan.
1. Contact your congressional representatives.
You can also go to Resist.bot or text 50409 to quickly find and contact your elected officials. You can also find “ready to sign” petitions on Resist.bot’s website or draft your own letters over text. You can also email the White House using this template from the International Rescue Committee.
You can help relocate Afghan allies and veterans through this campaign, White House, Save Our SIVs. Urge the Biden Administration to take action.
If you can volunteer your time, please go to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services. You can volunteer to do airport pick-ups, apartment set-ups, or bring meals in Seattle/Tacoma, the D.C. area, Houston, or Fort Worth. If your city isn’t listed, there is a standby list you can join. LIRS also accepts donations.
You or your organization can volunteer to assist the Pars Equality Center with intake forms. You can contact the Pars Equality Center here.
If you are a service member trying to help their interpreters, please head here.
If you are in D.C., you can help Afghan refugees get resettled in the area by going to this website.
To help with refugee foster care, please head here.
As updates continue, we expect there to be additional volunteer opportunities, even locally in Chicago. For example, non-profit Refugee One is already preparing to welcome refugee families to Chicago.
3. Sign petitions.
Have a spare minute or two? Then you certainly have time to sign a few petitions.
This petition “demand(s) that U.S. leaders don’t sacrifice the rights and lives of women in any peace deal with the Taliban.”
This petition calls on European countries to create safe passages for Afghan refugees.
This petition calls on the UK Government to send support to Afghanistan now.
4. Speak up and stay informed.
In general, it’s important to stay informed on the issue as this is quickly worsening as a humanitarian crisis. Tons of threads and helpful resources are being shared online, including this one created by a U.S. veteran, which compiles resources and information on the crisis. Consider reading up on the history of the Taliban or the U.S. Afghanistan war.
The NY Times has been providing updates here as the news constantly changes. Follow trusted news accounts and activists on social media to stay informed.
Spread information on your social accounts. Bring up the crisis in conversations with friends and family to spread awareness.
Most importantly, make sure the information you share is correct and verified. Afghan families are relying on the spread of accurate information. Wrong information can have dire consequences at this time.