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Resources for Afghans seeking to flee Afghanistan

August 25th, 2021
topic:Humanitarian Aid
by:FairPlanet Editorial Team
located in:Afghanistan, Pakistan, Germany, Canada, USA
tags:Afghanistan, freedom of expression, humanitarian aid, media, Taliban

As the window of opportunity for Afghans to flee the horrors of the Taliban narrows, some avenues to safety remain open. These resources may assist vulnerable Afghans trying to escape.

Since the arrival of Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Sunday, 15 August, the number of Afghans trying to leave the country has grown exponentially. Thousands of them have flocked to Kabul’s international airport over the past few days, desperate to be evacuated to safety. 

But western nations, particularly the US and Germany, have been primarily concerned with evacuating their own citizens, and have stranded many Afghans who supported them in various ways over the decades at the risk of their own and their families' lives. 

It was impossible to stay indifferent to the harrowing scenes of people clinging to airplanes as they took off - in some cases plunging to their deaths - and of parents desperately throwing their toddlers and babies to the hands of American soldiers over the airport’s barbwire fence, begging them to save their children’s lives. 

In the meantime, the Taliban’s promises of clemency for those who collaborated with Afghan or western forces and its pledge to ensure some form of freedom of the press have proven to be false. Various sources confirm that the terror organisation is compiling lists of dissidents and is going “door to door” to hunt down allies and partners of the former regime and western entities.

Last Thursday, Taliban insurgents shot and killed a relative of an Afghan journalist working for Deutsche Welle and seriously injured another one of his family members. The journalist himself had managed to flee to Germany. 

Particularly vulnerable groups at the moment include people who worked in some capacity with western governments or organisations, dissidents, journalists and media workers, human rights defenders, religious and ethnic minorities, women and LGBTQ+ people. Family members of any of the above are also facing severe risks of retaliation, abuse and even death. 

While the Kabul International Airport is officially closed to commercial flights and the number of military aircrafts conducting evacuation flights is dwindling, there are still possible avenues for escape, especially as international pressure to intervene on behalf of Afghans mounts. 

If you, your family members or anyone you’re associated with are currently stranded in Afghanistan and wishes to escape, you may find the following resources useful.

 

Afghan journalists seeking refuge

The Coalition for Women in Journalism is currently assisting Afghan journalists seeking refuge, regardless of their gender. Any journalist looking for assistance may get in touch at this email address: safety@womeninjournalism.org.

The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee, an NGO partnered with the ​​International Media Support, provides emergency support for journalists in Afghanistan facing severe threats of violence. The organisation is currently raising funds to bring Afghan journalists to safety.  You may contact the AJSC Hotline for Emergency Support at: +93 (0) 702502087

The Journalists in Distress (DIS) Network, which is made up of 18 different organisations, is offering direct assistance to journalists and media workers under threat. This list contains a breakdown of the various organisations and their websites. 

Canada expands resettlement program from Afghanistan 

In response to the Taliban’s takeover, the Canadian government announced that it will expand its current program to resettle vulnerable Afghans who are under threat in their own country. 

In addition to granting immigration benefits to Afghans who supported Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan, the Canadian government will introduce a special program that focuses on particularly vulnerable groups, including women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, persecuted religious minorities, LGBTI individuals and family members of previously resettled interpreters.

“The program will welcome government-supported and privately sponsored refugees, along with those sponsored by families already in Canada,” the government’s website reads. 

More information can be found on Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship website

It’s important to note that while Canada’s program appears to be the most accommodating and the least bureaucratic, it is nonetheless new and may take some time to implement fully and efficiently. 

Individuals associated with German organisations

Afghans who were contracted or employed by a German organisation may be eligible for protection by the German government under certain circumstances. 

Staff of German organisations should contact the German Federal Foreign Office via one of these telephone numbers: 0049 (0) 30-1817-1000 / 00 49 (0) 30-5000-1000

Or this email address: 040.krise19@diplo.de

The email should include: 

  • Names of all persons in need of assistance
  • Dates and places of birth 
  • Passport numbers 
  • Nationality
  • Contact information (phone, email, etc.)

Alas, the German authorities haven’t been assisting a significant number of people thus far, and the bureaucratic hurdles appear to be significant. For information, tips, and updates about the process please visit this website

Afghans employed by the US gov’t and American NGOs

Afghan citizens who were employed in some capacity by the US government are eligible for the Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans (SIV). The process is lengthy, but the State Department has begun expediting certain cases. 

The Afghan P-2 program allows US-based organisations (NGOs, media, etc) to refer some of their Afghan employees and their immediate relatives to the Refugee Admissions Program. 

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) has prepared information guides for people applying for the SIV and P-2 Refugee programs. The NGO also provides legal assistance for some refugees. 

Check out the IRAP website for lists of resources, information and to find out whether you’re eligible for one of the US Refugee programs. 

You may also consult this list prepared by  U.S. Rep. Andy Kim with information for people stranded in Afghanistan. The list includes instructions for how to request the government to expedite the processing of your application. 

Pakistan to issue visas for Afghan journalists and media workers

According to the Pakistan Press Foundation, the Pakistani government announced that it will facilitate visas for Afghan journalists and media personnel and their families to guarantee their safe exit from the country during “this period of uncertainty.”

Media workers in Afghanistan requiring visas to Pakistan may contact this WhatsApp number: 00923222807683. 

It is unknown how long this program will last, and there is reason to suspect, given Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban, that Afghans’ lives will remain under threat in Pakistan. That said, it may still be a crucial station on the way to safety elsewhere for Afghan media workers and their families.

 

Image by: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Article written by:
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Thousands of Afghans have flocked to Kabul’s international airport since the Taliban's takeover.
© Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The Taliban began hunting down dissidents, journalists and those who collaborated with Western forces.
© Ahmad Sahel Arman/AFP via Getty Images