It’s Time for All-Hands on Deck in Afghanistan

August 27, 2021 By Michelle Bekkering and Dana Bruce

Over the past two weeks, the world has watched the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan with mounting horror; horror that turned into terror yesterday with the deadly attack on the Kabul airport. There will be plenty of time for Monday morning quarterbacking later, but for our citizens, partners and allies in Afghanistan, the clock is ticking. We must focus on the immediate steps to safely evacuate those who want to leave and protect those who stay from Taliban reprisal. To accomplish this mission will take the combined efforts of our public and private sectors.

The United States has long been the world’s leader in providing development and humanitarian assistance, supported by the overwhelming generosity of the American taxpayers. By harnessing the capital of the private sector, too, we are able to multiply the reach of our taxpayer dollars while knowing our investments abroad have a direct correlation on American prosperity and security.

While the U.S. Government continues the evacuation of American citizens and our Afghan allies, U.S. companies, non-profits, NGOs, and religious communities are quickly mobilizing resources to aid in this mission. On August 22, the Civil Reserve Air Fleet was activated and U.S. commercial airlines and charter carriers are poised to aid in the mission. The first United Airlines flight with evacuees from Afghanistan landed in the United States on August 22.

Mobilizing the air power to bring Americans and as many allies out as possible is crucial. So is quickly ensuring Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) and Priority 2 status for our brave Afghan partners and allies in the country who face great peril in the wake of our departure. President George W. Bush asserted in a statement the U.S. Government “has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crises.”

Combined U.S., UK, and German efforts have evacuated over 110,000 people as of Thursday morning.  The next hurdle will be ensuring the provision of necessary resources for these evacuees— most notably food and housing in neighboring countries and here in the United States. While the U.S. Government has allocated 500 million in funding for relocating Afghans; it is expected that as many as 50,000 evacuees will fall under a humanitarian parole designation and thus not be immediately eligible for refugee resettlement benefits. That’s where the private sector will come in.

As the U.S. Government and our allies work tirelessly to save those hoping to leave, we cannot forget about those left to live in the conflict and chaos. According to the Association of Wartime Allies, a minimum of 250,000 Afghans and their family members eligible for evacuation with Special Immigrant Visas and Priority 2 refugee status will be left behind in a country already facing instability. The UNHCR reports more than half a million people have been forced to leave their homes this year due to the fighting, and an estimated 3.5 million Afghans are internally displaced within the nation.

To meet these needs, U.S. NGOs and their private sector partners are committed to providing direct aid and support, both in Afghanistan and through the resettlement process.

For the organizations remaining on the ground in Afghanistan, financial systems will now be under Taliban rule. For these organizations to fund their critical and desperately needed relief work, the Administration also needs to provide a clear path and guidance to get the humanitarian dollars into the country.

If you are looking for an avenue to support the aid efforts for the people of Afghanistan, the following USGLC Coalition Members are actively seeking donations.

CARE is committed to staying in Afghanistan, but has temporarily suspended some field operations because of the security situation. CARE meets humanitarian needs through cash-based assistance to displaced and vulnerable families so they may obtain food, shelter and protection while supporting the local economy of the host communities.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) began their humanitarian work in 1988 and now operates in five provinces in Afghanistan focusing on agriculture, education, and disaster response.  CRS will continue to provide assistance to families who have lived for decades of conflict, poverty and uncertainty.

International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been operating in Afghanistan since 1988, and as part of its Afghanistan appeal, pledges to support displaced families with shelter, clean water, sanitation and other basic necessities.

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has been working with Afghan communities for over 20 years and in this current crisis is providing water, hygiene kits, and shelter for displaced families. IRUSA is committing $1 million to Islamic Relief Afghanistan to support internally displaced individuals in the country. Here in the U.S., IRUSA will work with the various US-based social service community organizations to provide support to the growing number of refugees.

Save the Children has suspended some operations in Afghanistan but the NGO is continuing to provide necessary items like clothes for children, blankets, and kitchen items where possible. Over 120,000 children have been displaced by conflict since June 2021. An estimated 72,000 children are now in Kabul fleeing violence.

UNICEF USA supports UNICEF’s 11 offices throughout Afghanistan to deliver lifesaving supplies. Due to conflict the nation’s child casualty rates are at record heights. UNICEF is on the ground working to protect children from trauma and provide the aid needed to support a healthy childhood.

World Food Program USA, through its support of the U.N. World Food Programme, is committed to feeding 14 million Afghans in 2021. Nearly half of the children under age five in Afghanistan are expected to face acute malnutrition as conflict further reduces access to nutritious food.

World Vision International began emergency relief operations in Afghanistan in 2001. The years of conflict have displaced over 5.5 million people and during this time World Vision expanded their programs to provide services and support in health, nutrition, access to clean water and hygiene, and education through interfaith partnerships.

The information in this blog is current as of August 27, 2021. We will update the information as USGLC Coalition members inform us of their relief efforts. If you are a member of USGLC and have additional resources to provide, please contact Dana Bruce, Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships, at [email protected]