With the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, thousands of Afghan citizens are attempting to flee the country, fearful of a regime that has ruled by terror in the past. So why is it taking so long for refugees to arrive in the U.S.? The answer is complicated.
The airport near the capital city of Kabul has been overrun by those trying to leave, and there are not enough flights available to transport them all. The U.S. is focused on evacuating American citizens first, then Afghans who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan. Yet many who qualify for special visas have been turned away from the airport and told to wait at home for further instructions. Others have been taken to intermediate countries to be more fully vetted before coming to the U.S. Thousands of additional Afghan visa applications are in process – which can take months or years.
In the meantime, how can we help? Here are some ideas.
On a local level, refugee resettlement organizations throughout West Ohio are preparing for a potential influx of Afghan refugees. Many of these organizations accept donations of household items such as furniture, lamps, kitchen accessories, and sheets and blankets. They also have volunteer opportunities, such as becoming a mentor or conversation partner. Organizations include:
- Catholic Charities (Cincinnati/Dayton) - Click here
- Community Refugee & Immigration Services (Columbus) - Click here
- US Together (Toledo) - Click here
Nationally, U.S. residents can advocate for the government to increase its response to Afghan nationals who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. The U.S. government has an obligation to provide refuge for Afghan allies and those fleeing violence and persecution by expanding and expediting access to the U.S. resettlement program. Take action now! ! (Take Action: Urge the Administration to Expand Refugee Protections for Afghans Fleeing Violence and Persecution | CWS (cwsglobal.org)
The Afghan residents who remain in-country face violence, drought, malnutrition, and for women and girls – potential abuse and exploitation. Humanitarian aid organizations are working to provide food, shelter, and protection for the most vulnerable. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is providing cash assistance to displaced families in the Kabul area through its International Disaster Response fund (Advance #982450) and is prepared to assist with refugee resettlement through the Global Migration project (Advance #3022144). You can support these efforts by giving to:
- UMCOR International Disaster Response - Click here
- UMCOR Global Migration - Click here
- International Rescue Committee – Click here
- Women for Afghan Women - Click here
- International Medical Corps - Click here
Now is also an important time to remember that immigrants and refugees are always in need of welcome, both in our communities and in our churches. For more information on how you can get involved, click here to go to West Ohio’s immigration webpage.