How you can take action and stand in solidarity with Afghan people
We’ve pulled together a list of steps you can take to support Afghan people on the ground and refugees arriving in the UK.
Since the Taliban seized control of the capital Kabul on 15 August, the scenes from Afghanistan have been devastating. News reports and chaotic footage from Kabul airport have shown Afghan people desperate to escape from a future under brutal Taliban control.
The abrupt withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of gruelling conflict is having catastrophic consequences. Despite the mounting stories of worry and despair, we are seeing a callous lack of empathy towards Afghan refugees from the UK government, which has pledged to resettle 5,000 Afghan refugees in the first year, and 20,000 over the next five years. It’s by no means enough, given Britain’s heavy involvement in destabilisation of the region.
But what can we do to help as these disasters unfold? Here are some actions that you can take to understand what is happening on the ground, and to support Afghan refugees arriving in the UK:
Supporting those on the ground
Charities to consider supporting include the country’s largest women’s organisation Women for Afghan Women, who are providing safe shelter, resources and aid for families, GlobalGiving, who have launched an Afghanistan Emergency Fund to support their locally-led partner NGOs based in Afghanistan and Afghanaid, who are supporting families who have lost their homes and livelihoods. A list of individual and group crowdfunding efforts can be found here. Reports from Kabul have included interviews with LGBT people fearful for their lives; Canadian organisation Rainbow Railroad is working to provide safe passage for LGBT Afghans to leave the country, and international LGBTQI+ organisation Give Out has also launched an emergency fund to support this work. Please do your own due diligence and research before deciding to donate to these causes and others listed in this article.
Over the last two decades, Afghanistan’s media scene has strengthened greatly, with women in particular gaining prominent roles in broadcast journalism and starting their own independent news outlets. The safety of journalists is now at risk with the Taliban takeover. We have been following The Fuller Project as they work with local Afghan journalists, including the staff of Rukhshana Media, to amplify stories from the ground. You can support Rukhshana Media’s mission of women-led journalism by donating to their crowdfunder here. The International Journalists’ Network has also put together a comprehensive list of how to support Afghan journalists, including fundraisers by the International Women’s Media Foundation and the International Federation of Journalists.
Learning from and centring Afghan voices
Experts, academics and journalists including Munazza Ebtikar, Muska Dastageer, Mejgan Massoumi, Zahra Nader and many more have been sharing informed and insightful analysis and information on social media about both the situation on the ground and the context needed to understand current events. An extensive digital archive compiled by Munazza is available here, full of further reading and resources on the history and study of Afghanistan. Historian Marya Hannun has also compiled this list of people on Twitter to follow for more insights on and from Afghanistan.
Supporting JCWI’s work to help Afghan refugees in the UK
As Minnie Rahman from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants wrote for gal-dem in July, the UK government’s new ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ could criminalise refugees for crossing the English Channel, including Afghans, and seeks to place more asylum seekers in camps, both offshore and in the UK. You can write to the Home Secretary opposing the Bill via Safe Passage’s action template here.
You can also sign up and become a member of JCWI to help them fight for migrant and refugee rights in the UK, campaign against the hostile environment and oppose the new Borders Bill. Find out more about their The People Move challenge fundraiser taking place in September, and donate directly here. Donations help JCWI run their immigration helplines offering free legal advice to those who need it.
Lobbying your MPs
As part of their solidarity campaign, JCWI have invited people to edit the letter they sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel and send it on to their MP. You can find contact details for your MP quickly and easily here. Almost 3,000 Afghans are still awaiting asylum in the UK – JCWI’s letter demands that they be granted immediate protection (which can help them support family members abroad too), and that Afghans are able to seek asylum in the UK regardless of how they flee.
Rainbow Migration are also asking supporters to amplify their letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to help evacuate LGBTQI+ Afghans from the country. You can also write your own version of this letter to your own MP to call for the same support.
Researching what refugee charities actually need
The Kent Refugee Action Network’s media lead, Bridget Chapman, has written an article with helpful tips on how to support new arrivals in the UK, based on her experience of working with a small refugee charity. Her tips include researching what charities need by looking at their websites and social media channels rather than inundating with enquiries, and registering with a hosting charity such as Room for Refugees or Refugees at Home if you have space in your home and can offer a room to a refugee. Bridget has also collated a list of local charities across the UK to consider supporting within her article.
This Saturday (28 August) will mark worldwide solidarity protests in support of the people of Afghanistan. Information on individual cities, events and contact details are available on The Afghan Instagram page – the London protest will take place from 12pm Saturday at Marble Arch.
gal-dem will be keeping this page updated – please tweet us @galdemzine with any suggested additions!
Image by Jeanne Menjoulet from Paris, France, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons