8 Ways to Help Afghan Refugees & Humanitarian Organizations Right Now
As the humanitarian crisis unfolds, everything from your airline miles to your time is needed.
The Taliban, an extremist political group that has operated within Afghanistan for decades, has overthrown control of Afghanistan, spurring an urgent humanitarian crisis. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation on August 15, and foreign embassies began evacuating their personnel. In terrifying images from Kabul’s airport, Afghans clung to the exteriors of airplanes filled with American and British passengers that were making hasty exits.
The Taliban’s takeover comes after the end of a nearly 20-year American military occupation in the country. The sudden shift in power has had dire consequences for the people of Afghanistan, especially those who have expressed support or worked with the Afghan government and their international allies.
In particular, women working in Afghanistan are at risk due to their visibility and the antiquated and severe governance of the Taliban. Under Taliban rule, an extremist interpretation of Islam is used to impose strict laws that restrict many freedoms for women and girls.
Before the most recent developments in Afghanistan, the nation already had a global refugee population of about 2.5 million people, according to the United Nations. Human rights experts have expressed that the Taliban’s rule will lead to hundreds of thousands more people being displaced, and many seeking safety outside the borders of the nation.
It can feel overwhelming to estimate how we, as individuals, can contribute to a crisis that seems both so urgent and so large. But around the world, organizations are banding together to get resources and support to people in Afghanistan, and those who are trying to flee. Below are a eight ways to get involved and learn more.
Right now, one of the most urgent needs is for Afghanis trying to leave the country to secure a way out. Miles4Migrants is an organization that converts cash, miles, and points into flights that get vulnerable people to safety. On August 12, the organization announced on Twitter that they were quickly expanding their resources on flights for Afghan refugees. The organization says they are most urgently seeking Chase, Amex, Air Canada, and cash donations. To donate and learn more visit https://miles4migrants.org/.
"We have been closely following the devastating situation in Afghanistan," Miles4Migrants said in a statement to Thrillist. "Over the past few weeks, we have been working expeditiously with our charity partners to help families escape the Taliban takeover of the Afghan government. Sadly, the takeover has increased at an alarming rate, and many—but not all—of the flights we booked just days ago have already been cancelled. Miles4Migrants remains firmly committed to assisting our partners in getting Afghan families to safety. We stand ready to fulfill these flight requests as soon as we can do so."
Visions for Children
While major organizations are assisting in Afghanistan, the most pressing needs are with citizens on the ground. Visions for Children is a German organization that partners with local groups to power education initiatives. When the Taliban began seizing power, this organization's focus turned to assisting with emergency aid through its partners located in the country. To donate and learn more visit https://www.visions4children.org/en/.
Help Afghan refugees resettle through local groups
For anyone escaping Afghanistan right now, any relief from the immediate danger is followed by rebuilding life in a new country. There are dozens of local initiatives in the US and Canada that support efforts to get refugees housed, with the essential resources and guidance needed for living in a new place. LIRS Connect is seeking volunteers to help with airport pick-ups, apartment set-ups, and food drops in the Seattle/Tacoma area, the DC/Maryland area, and in Houston and Fort Worth. They are also accepting donations. For a comprehensive list of local efforts, human rights lawyer Mai El-Sadany created a Twitter thread that includes organizations from California to Canada.
Female journalists working in Afghanistan are facing a three-pronged risk: they are journalists, they are women, and they are women working in defiance of the Taliban’s strict laws. Because of this, they are especially vulnerable and particularly essential. They are voices that need to be uplifted and protected. Rukshana Media is an organization that is staffed by Afghan women and whose purpose is to protect female journalists. Donate to Rukshana Media here and follow their work here.
Afghan Diaspora for Equality & Progress
The path to asylum and other forms of immigration is not easy, and one of the many challenges facing refugees is the legal aspects of their relocation. Afghan Diaspora for Equality and Progress uses legal experts and resources to help Afghans immigrate and seek asylum out of the country You can donate to the organization and share the information they compiled
about pathways to immigrate to different countries.
Women Working Globally to Protect Afghan Women
This verified GoFundMe account is raising funds to protect another group of hyper-visible women in danger: Activists and politicians. The money from this fundraiser goes directly to protecting women and ensuring their security from the Taliban. Donate and learn more about this direct effort here.
The Baba Mazari Foundation
This is another verified GoFundMe that is focusing directly on supplying aid in areas where attacks from the Taliban have occurred. The Baba Mazari Foundation is partnering with other international aid groups to disperse these funds to displaced families in several cities across the country. Donate here.
Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA is a large organization with a long history of supplying aid to nations and peoples in crisis. Current fundraising efforts are for the widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The organization is sending water, hygiene kits, shelter, and for displaced families, and special support for orphaned children. Learn more about Islamic Relief USA’s work in Afghanistan and donate to support their efforts here.
"Islamic Relief's country office in Afghanistan has identified the capital city of Kabul and the provinces of Balkh and Nangarhar as areas in need of immediate support," Islamic Relief USA said in a statement to Thrillist. "The organization's aid efforts are focused in these areas, where a large number of internally displaced people (IDP) are fleeing to seek refuge. We have committed $1 million to the distribution of shelter, food parcels, water, and hygiene kits to IDPs in these regions to provide for immediate and basic needs. Additionally, in response to food insecurity and impact caused by COVID-19, a $1.5 million response is currently underway, aiming to provide food support to over 90,000 Afghans."