The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has fueled a frantic evacuation from Kabul, where thousands of Afghans are attempting to flee. The Biden Administration has broad bipartisan support in its attempt to provide refuge for Afghans who aided U.S. forces during their 20-year campaign, but the effort has been tripped up by significant logistical challenges. Details on what’s next for the people who do manage to safely make it out of the country remain scant.
Special Immigrant Visas are key to Biden Administration’s plan. Afghans who helped the U.S. are eligible to apply for SIVs, which allow them and their families to quickly move to the U.S. permanently. In some cases, these SIVs may be a matter of life and death, as some Afghans have expressed concerns that the Taliban may be seeking to punish men and women who aided the U.S. This aid could have come in the form of translation services, or work for the U.S. government, NATO or U.S. allies.
Afghans who are not eligible for SIVs can still apply for refugee resettlement to the U.S. if they have reason to fear persecution from the Taliban. However, the application process is time consuming and U.S.-based refugee services are stretched thin even in the best of times. Limited staff and budget cuts mean applications can take months or even years to process, although Congress technically requires all applications to be handled within 9 months.
Some advocates are calling on President Joe Biden to utilize what’s known as “humanitarian parole,” which would allow some refugees to come to the U.S. without a visa, where they could be eligible for asylum.
Biden has yet to say how many Afghan refugees the administration will allow into the U.S. As of last Saturday, some 17,000 had been evacuated from Kabul. The White House estimates that there are between 50,000 and 65,000 total people seeking to escape Afghanistan. In a conversation with RELEVANT, World Relief Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Jenny Yang said that “What’s evident now is there is a crisis of confidence in U.S. leadership in the world and people questioning our ability to keep our word to those who fought alongside of us.”
To that end, several refugee organizations are stepping up to assist with the crisis in Afghanistan. Here are some that could use your help.
World Relief is soliciting donations to help with their work in Afghanistan, providing refuge to people fleeing the Taliban.
Human Rights First is seeking lawyers will to do pro bono work for refugees.
If Afghan refugees are being resettled in your area, the The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service needs your help providing them with food, transportation and helping furnish apartments. You can see the list of places currently accepting refugees here.
The International Medical Corps is seeking donations to help with medical emergencies on the ground in Afghanistan.
The International Rescue Committee is hoping to raise $10 million to help with refugee resettlement, and is also seeking volunteers to help Afghans with Special Immigration Visas find housing and work.