Stars and Stripes – How to help: Charitable efforts multiply in response to plight of Afghans

Displaced Afghans camp in a park in Kabul on Friday, August 13, 2021, before the Taliban stormed the city. The Taliban’s sweep in Afghanistan has prompted many ex-combatants and others to seek ways to alleviate humanitarian suffering in the country. (Phillip Walter Wellman / Stars and Stripes)

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan inspires the efforts of veterans and others to alleviate suffering and help the Afghans who supported the US war effort.

Organizations in the United States are bracing for an influx of refugees, while groups continuing their aid work in Afghanistan have seen increased bloodshed and other extreme hardship caused by the crisis.

Here are a few ways to help.

Helping Afghan refugees

As he watched the crisis unfold in St. Louis, Afghanistan veteran and law student Peter Lucier wanted to do something.

But unsure of what to do, he sought advice from people he knew on Twitter.

“Ten years after coming out, I’m still a Marine,” he said. “So if you tell me what to do, I will. “

Because the news in such crises can be confusing, Christopher Boian, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said people who wish to help refugees should first seek more detailed information on the challenges they face, such as integration and resettlement.

With the help of his supporters, Lucier chose to support the groups Keeping Our Promise, which helps resettle Afghans who have supported the US government, and Hearts and Homes for Refugees, which provides sponsors and other programs to help. to the integration of refugees.

Lucier then turned to current and former military nicknamed “MilTwitter”, hoping to “put a veteran face” in crowdfunding campaigns to support the groups. They raised some $ 40,000 in a few days.

The first engagements last week met an immediate need, he said, allowing Keeping Our Promise to begin preparing for sending an Afghan family to the United States.

Another group, Lutheran Social Services National Capital Area, is rallying to support Afghans arriving at Fort Lee, Va., One of three locations where the Pentagon has said it will welcome up to 22,000 visa applicants. special immigrant and refugees for treatment.

New York-based HIAS is urging people to volunteer and donate to support resettlement efforts, and it’s partnered with Airbnb, where people can volunteer to host refugee families and other people needing a place to stay.

Catholic Charities and Jewish Family Service are among four organizations in San Diego that told CBS8 they receive three to five Afghan refugee families per week and expect that number to increase as the crisis worsens .

The Office of Refugee Resettlement at the US Department of Health and Human Services also provides a contact list for refugee resettlement programs in all 50 states. Boian also recommended the Refugee Council USA.

Aid groups still at work in Afghanistan

Despite the violence and uncertainty, many humanitarian aid and nonprofit groups say they are continuing their work in Afghanistan.

Doctors Without Borders said the increase in violence has placed some of its facilities on the front lines of the conflict, but its staff are working to keep health care facilities open and to ensure treatment not only for victims of war, but also pregnant women and others in need of care. care.

Kabul’s nonprofit emergency surgical center was overcapacity as it treated 115 patients on Monday, including some injured at the airport, which was overrun by fleeing Afghans, said Alberto Zanin, the medical coordinator of the establishment, in a press release.

“There is a lot of chaos outside our hospital,” he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which runs more than a dozen medical centers, pledged to continue its work in the country, where it said it had treated more than 4,000 gun-wounded patients since August 1. .

The International Rescue Committee, which has been operating in the country since the 1980s and says its projects are 99% Afghani, warns that 2021 could be the deadliest year of the conflict in more than a decade and calls $ 10 million to support its humanitarian efforts.

PARSA, a non-profit organization that runs a boy and girl boy scout program, cautiously returns to work after its compound was initially overrun by the Taliban, but no one was injured, the manager said. association executive, Marnie Gustavson, in an email Wednesday.

“PARSA staff are moving forward with grace, compassion and courage to keep PARSA open and operational,” she said. “We will focus on providing humanitarian assistance for the foreseeable future using our network of Afghan Scouts across the country.”

portrait of the author

Chad garland

Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the US military in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. A native of Illinois who has reported for news organizations in Washington, DC, Arizona, Oregon and California, he is an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and Arizona State University.



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