A Response to Afghanistan

Thousands of people in Afghanistan have a well-founded fear of reprisal, persecution, and targeted assassinations.

News sources that even remotely hint how we may be misunderstanding the current and future actions/intentions of the “capital T” Taliban ignore that they have already been engaging in widespread acts of violence and torture in their retaking of the country.

Not to mention that millions of girls and women will now have many of their rights stolen.

This is precisely what causes displacement/refugees; those fleeing persecution due to association (in this case by association with the global West) or persecution in the form of wanting to be an educated, professional woman.

There are immediate needs; this is not what Every Shelter does yet. However, Every Shelter helps provide for the needs that will inevitably arise as the millions who won’t meet the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) technical qualifications look to flee across the border for a life no longer possible to them at home.

This is where we work.

We’re working to build a model and a system to respond to a gap the current system can’t or doesn’t recognize; these millions who will flee across a border won’t be able to go home for decades. Historically less than 1% of these families will be resettled in a place like the United States or Europe; the vast majority will live in urban poverty or camp settings in the countries in immediate proximity.

I have no reason to believe that this specific displacement event will be any different than, say, Syria (10+ years of displacement now), South Sudan (20+ years), or Somalia (20+ years). Why? Because the well-founded fear that many Afghans have isn’t going away any time soon with the complete withdrawal of western militaries. They don’t and won’t have something to go back to.

It seems clear that many who hope for an SIV won’t be granted one. The alternative traditional resettlement routes won’t be open to them for a long time outside of our government’s concerted push.

You can call your members of congress and plead for diplomatic and military stabilizing support to keep that airport running as long as possible.

For those in Houston, the next thing you can do is to consider taking the orientation at Houston Welcomes Refugees to provide gap support to the hundreds of SIV status Afghans who will inevitably be resettled here in Houston in September.

You can be a friend to them, help them shop for groceries, help get their apartments furnished, help them navigate our mass transit system, help them get their kids enrolled in school, host them at your house for a meal, extend your welcome, and friendship.

Every Shelter is organizationally close in friendship with HWR, and we admire their mission and work. I couldn’t recommend them to you enough. My wife and I have personally volunteered through them.

The last thing is this, I addressed it above, but the reality is that most of these Afghans won’t have a chance to apply for or gain an SIV. Millions with a well-founded fear of persecution or who refuse to re-enter the 7th century will need to take refuge somewhere else.

If recent history is a gauge for this, they’ll be displaced in this way for decades. Quickly their needs will stop making the news cycle here, as Syria has, and millions will languish anonymously in camp settings. This is Every Shelter’s focus. We need modern approaches that recognize that people, who aren’t eligible for resettlement, have talents, potential, and capacity that are going untapped. We see it in every context we’ve ever worked.

Invest in us. We’re building a model that we hope to transplant into new settings as we grow, but we have to grow to do it. Many have asked us if we’re helping or able to help Afghans. Lord willing, we can in the future…if we can grow.

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