Since the takeover of the Taliban. Thousands of Afghans have been in danger due to their ties to the U.S. government and the oppressively leadership of the Taliban. It is important to note that this situation is not isolated, and that this occurrence is the product of a war that has been going on over 20 years between the United States and the terrorist group.
In the midst of this humanitarian crisis that the government has politized, groups such as No one left behind have been working to provide aid and resources for those who are trying to flee Afghanistan and the refugees who are coming to the country.
I had the opportunity to attend a townhall about this crisis and heard many experts and activists share their knowledge about the situation and how we can help at the local level from people working first hand with this community and agencies that provide service and guidance to refugees inside and outside of the country.
People like Richard MacNamee, veteran and director of MSU Denver Cybersecurity Center and who has been working on the process of resettlements for refugees in Denver and who explained how families are being transported right now from safehouse to safehouse while they find a way to get them to a refugee camp in another country, usually Pakistan or Tajikistan. They had to be translated within six weeks, which is the window given to avoid the upcoming harsh winter conditions.
Atim Otii, the director of Denver Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs also added that many international organizations that were processing applications from refugees had to stop due to the restrictions imposed by the government of the United States.
People fleeing Afghanistan have had to experience many hardships that do not necessarily end when they arrive to another country. They go through traumatic events, which includes for many burning all their documents so that the Taliban cannot find them and see something worth of becoming a target, like working for any U.S. agency, for instance, mentioned Nike Puldra, a community member engagement present in the panel as well. And once they are in safer areas, they have to encounter another type of hostility: the experience of being a refugee in a foreign country and the fear of how people may receive you.
Metra Mehran talked about her own experience as a refugee and activist and also gave advice regarding how to best help the refugee community, a few of those tips were:
- Provide hot meals to people in refugee camps.
- Guide them with forms of payment, such as cards and ATMs.
- Being informed about resettlement process.
- Make an effort to talk to them and get to know their stories.
- Help sharing their stories.
You can find about other ways to help for residents from Denver in any of these websites: