Afghan Americans scramble to assist diaspora

Sayed* has not slept in days. His nights are crammed with frantic messages from family and friends, and his days are crammed talking to the media and lobbying California’s congresspeople by telephone, e mail, and journeys to their places of work.

“This is a very dark day not only for Afghanistan but for the international community,” mentioned Sayed, the organiser of an Afghan neighborhood group in Sacramento, California.

Across the United States, Afghan Americans like Sayed are going by means of a lot of the identical as they watch their nation crumble from afar.

“All of their achievements and sacrifices, whether it was human life sacrifices or humanitarian assistance, all of the lives and money cost within 20 years of the struggle to build a country from scratch, it’s all gone in the middle of one night. It’s incredible and shocking and embarrassing for the international community,” says Sayed, whose mom, brother, and different kinfolk are nonetheless in Afghanistan after his resettlement within the US in 2015, due to his work with USAID. “People are desperate, fleeing in the middle of the night with bags full of cash.”

Arash Azizzada – a co-founder of Afghans For A Better Tomorrow, a gaggle of progressive Afghan diaspora organisers working for peace in Afghanistan – predicted the nation’s present occasions months in the past when he co-wrote an opinion piece for Newsweek in April.

“We knew that Afghan folks would find themselves in a predicament because we knew the US was not acting in good faith and was looking for ways out – they’ve been doing this across administrations,” he informed Al Jazeera. “Now the diaspora community here in the US and across the globe are creating ad hoc networks of support, trying to triage and focus on evacuations first and foremost, advocating for keeping the airport running.”

Azizzada emphasises the big selection of individuals – from members of the LGBTQ neighborhood to those that fought for girls’s rights and spoke out towards the Taliban crimes – who’re in danger amid the US forces’ withdrawal.

“The US and the international community spent roughly 20 years saying, ‘Hey, break barriers, be bold and daring, take a risk. Don’t worry, this is democracy, this is how it works,’ and now they’ve totally abandoned every single person they promised not to leave behind,” he says.

Azizzada says he and fellow members of the diaspora neighborhood are spending greater than 20 hours a day talking to the media to focus on the plight of these again home. “We’re on WhatsApp, Slack, Signal, sharing as much information as possible about possible evacuation routes, about how to get cash out at banks, and figuring out the refugee process. Everyone is getting a crash course in becoming an immigration expert because that’s currently what it takes.”

Azizzada desires the US and the worldwide neighborhood to drop visa necessities and different laws that stop individuals from resettling exterior of Afghanistan and to “deal with the humanitarian crisis that is slowly unravelling, which will cost countless lives of everyday Afghans”.

He desires the US authorities to ascertain a disaster hotline, however doesn’t really feel optimistic as a result of “they’re unable to even facilitate the safety of the airport”, he says.

Sara Noorzay is the previous operations director of the Afghan American Community Organization and present organiser with the Afghan American Coalition, an alliance of teams advocating for help for Afghans each inside Afghanistan and people looking for refuge within the US in response to the present disaster.

“We need the power of coming together with one single, unified voice of what our stance is and what our demands are of the Biden administration,” she says. “As the diaspora community mobilised and we saw people across the US taking a more active role, we thought it was necessary for us to create a hub of information.”

Noorzay’s coalition has developed a script for individuals to make use of when calling their native congress members and an inventory of 4 particular calls to motion for the US authorities: prioritising emergency evacuations for Afghans; increasing and expediting the visa course of for P-1, P-2, and particular immigrant visas (SIVs); instantly delivering humanitarian assist; and rising the annual refugee allocation by 100,000 and reassessing the quantity based mostly on want sooner or later.

The central downside with the P-2 visa is that candidates should be in a rustic exterior of Afghanistan to use, which isn’t secure or possible. Plus, as embassies have been closing within the nation, it’s nearly not possible for Afghans to accumulate the paperwork they should apply.

“Over the last few days, we’ve seen reports of flights that are leaving nearly empty because there’s not safe passage to the airport,” she says. “[Kabul] is chaos and outside of that the Taliban are intimidating and terrorising people who have been approved to leave to the US along the route to the airport. We’re hearing reports of men, women, and children being physically assaulted on the way to the airport. There aren’t nearly enough flights and it’s not safe or logistically possible for people to get to them.”

Noorzay says nearly all of the requests that her group receives from members of the diaspora neighborhood are associated to assist get family members out of Afghanistan and the way they are often most helpful to assist efforts, which is why they created the script for contacting authorities representatives.

She tells individuals asking how they will help to contact their congresspeople and different representatives by telephone or e mail. “You’re a constituent of these people. Make sure they know what we’re asking for and what our demands are,” she says.

In the meantime, many Afghans stay nervous and determined.

“My brother and mother are living in fear right now. I’m sending emails to everybody to save their lives, but I’m not getting a response. I haven’t slept three nights in a row. I keep watching the news and the Facebook videos people are posting,” Sayed says. “The whole world is responsible for taking immediate action in whatever way they can.”

*names have been modified as a consequence of safety issues.

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