- Alexandria Petrocelli
After 20 years of countless lives lost and sacrifices made we now watch as the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan continues to unfold. Opinions on the US withdraw are deeply personal for many and leave questions unanswered. One truth remains, that our obligation to the Afghan people must be upheld. We must now focus on the safety of our citizens, allies, and civilians still in Afghanistan.
The last time the Islamic Fundamentalist group ruled Afghanistan, the reality for women was filled with oppression and horror. A reality where failure to comply with the Taliban’s extremist view on Sharia was met with violence and mass executions. Women now face losing everything they have worked so hard to gain in the last 20 years in exchange for the chance of survival. Girls now fear losing all access to education. Hope in freedom has been pulled out from beneath their feet. While we have reports of a more “moderate” Taliban rule, their statement remains vague. It is also in great contrast to recent events that rightfully have many civilians fearful of their future. As troops left, targeted attacks on civilians increased. The majority of these attacks targeted women and girls. On May 8, 2021 a bombing in Kabul targeting a girl’s school resulted in 300 casualties and 86 deaths. Soon after this attack, Senators Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the bipartisan “Protect Women and Girls Rights in Afghanistan Act”. A call for a UN mandated fact finding mission was made by humanitarian organizations as no real accountability or effort had yet been given by the then Afghanistan government.
Many of those who have fled as refugees will now also face the reality of Islamophobia in the west.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees more than 400,000 Afghans have been displaced since the start of 2021. There are reports of more than 80,000 still trying to flee the country as of August 16. With knowledge we gain hope, power, and responsibility. Below you will find a list of resources to help ensure aid continues.
Women for Afghan Women: “Women for Afghan Women (WAW) is a grassroots civil society organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls in Afghanistan and New York” At the moment Women for Afghan Women is working 24/7 to keep thousands of women, children, families, and staff safe and cared for. You can help by donating here: https://womenforafghanwomen.org
Women for Women International: Women for Women International provides support for women who have survived war. A generous member of the community is matching donations dollar for dollar up to $500,000 to their Afghanistan program. https://support.womenforwomen.org/donate/afghanistan-emergency-2x-match?src=HHUA21082A
International Rescue Committee: IRC has been working in Afghanistan for 30 years and are determined to supporting those in this crises. You can find more information on how to donate, and advocate. They also have an online form to email President Biden calling for immediate action to ensure Afghan citizens have the opportunity for safety. https://www.rescue.org/article/how-can-i-help-afghanistan Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: LIRS is looking for volunteers to help welcome incoming refugees. While right now Seattle, Houston, Fort Worth, and DC are set to welcome arriving allies, you can fill out a general volunteer form should refugees arrive in Clarkston. There is also an opportunity to donate. https://lirsconnect.org/get_involved/action_center/siv