How You Can Help People in Afghanistan

5 minute read

After 20 years of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, the Taliban took control of Kabul on Sunday amid the chaotic evacuation of the Afghan national government and Western diplomats.

Distressing footage at Kabul airport—eerily similar to scenes from the U.S. evacuation of Saigon—showed Afghans attempting to flee on departing U.S. jets while diplomats abandoned the American embassy.

Critics say the unfolding humanitarian disaster is anything but the “secure and orderly” evacuation promised by President Joe Biden, who said on July 8 there was little chance of a Taliban takeover. President Ashraf Gani fled the country on Sunday, and the Taliban assumed power soon after

Afghan civilians fear a return to the brutal Taliban regime of 1996-2001, a period where religious and ethnic minorities were persecuted and stonings and public executions were commonplace. Women were systematically victimized under the Taliban, dependent on male chaperones to leave their homes and unable to access education.

Amid the chaos of the last few days, thousands of Afghans have fled the country. Many who were promised refuge abroad or were awaiting visa decisions are stuck in the country as all commercial flights have been cancelled. The United Nations estimates that as many as 18 million Afghans—nearly half the country’s population—need urgent humanitarian aid, including food and housing.

Here are some ways you can support people in Afghanistan, from donating to relief funds to assisting women refugees:

Donate to relief funds and aid agencies

Many organisations have launched emergency aid appeals since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on Sunday. Major international NGOs, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee, and the UN Human Rights Committee, are seeking donations to support their front line work in the country.

It’s possible to show support wherever you’re based; appeals have been established across the globe. The Australian organisation Baba Mazari Foundation has committed to distributing $100,000 in emergency aid to internally displaced refugees, while the U.K.-based charities Afghanaid and Turquoise Mountain have launched crisis funds.

Other organisations are working to improve particular aspects of the current conflict. Afghan startup Ehtesab is scaling their technology which provides civilians with live security updates. The Danish organisation, International Media Support, are calling for donations to support Afghan journalists who might be particularly vulnerable to Taliban violence. Miles4Migrants accepts donations in air miles for individuals with legal approval for travel who cannot afford the costs.

Many smaller crowdfunding campaigns have also sprung up online in the past week: this campaign, organized by a German human rights activist, is sourcing basic necessities to be distributed through local organizations on the ground, while this fundraiser launched by filmmaker Kyber Khan is offering urgent cash in hand relief. Other networks, such as this campaign organized by Afghan activist Samira Hamidi, are focussing their efforts on local volunteers helping vulnerable families.

Be sure you are confident your money is going where it is needed before making a donation: the not-for-profit network AFG Diaspora Hub has created a directory of verified organizations to help individuals make informed decisions about their giving.

Support refugees

Countries including the U.S. and Canada have launched special visas and pathways for Afghans who assisted Western forces during the war. Activists have published resources to explain the immigration requirements and processes, while other organizations are seeking volunteers to help with relocation procedures.

On Aug. 2, the U.S. The State Department announced an expansion of the refugee criteria to include at-risk Afghans who are not eligible for Special Immigrant Visas.

In anticipation of the wave of asylum claims expected in Western countries, you can support organizations which help refugees in their new countries. The U.K.-based Afghanistan and Central Asian Association needs volunteers to teach English and offer mentorship, while the Refugee Council U.S.A unites a coalition of charities helping refugees in the country.

Support women

Prominent women figures, from activists to judges, are now at risk of persecution and violence in Afghanistan. There are women-focussed organisations calling for donations, such as the Women’s Regional Network and Women for Afghan Women.

Many women journalists have continued to report on the conflict despite the risk to their personal safety. Rukhshana Media, an independent outlet committed to spotlighting Afghan women’s voices and stories which has collaborated with TIME, needs help to support its journalists. You can read work by local women reporters on education and healthcare in the country in TIME’s partnership with The Fuller Project.

In the last twenty years, women’s access to education has improved dramatically since the Taliban’s 1996-2001 rule. The fall of the country to the Taliban risks reversing the progress which has led to over half of the students attending Herat University, in the west of the country, being women. To invest in initiatives focussed on women and girls’ education, support organisations like Malala Fund, Sahar and Afghan Women’s Educational Centre.

Reach out to lawmakers and sign petitions

Pressuring politicians and lawmakers to open safe, legal pathways of migration might help ensure the safety of Afghan refugees. In the U.S., there are useful letter templates, forms, and contact information for Senators and Representatives which call for greater support to those who helped military forces.

You can also sign petitions to lobby the government in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia to expedite the resettlement of interpreters who aided allied forces and media organisations. Follow campaigns such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ push to provide safe, legal routes for asylum seekers into host countries.

This list is not comprehensive, and TIME has not independently confirmed the veracity of every source listed here and in related links.

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