We are raising money for safe houses, charter planes, and resettlement costs, and legal fees. So many are still waiting and hoping to escape. We will support them every step of the way with your incredible generosity!
Happy New Year. I hope this finds you all well and healthy. I'm sending you a video from one of the young women you all helped make it out of the country. There are others as well but I don't want to bombard you. It has become harder and harder to evacuate people from Afghanistan. The State Department has wittingly or unwittingly put as many idiotic obstacles in our path as human possible. And now even the people with approved Special Immigrant Visas are waiting and waiting for the State Department to get its act together and find a solution to fly them out of the country. The last solution they had was with a scam artist we all warned them about. He is now in Taliban prison.
Anyway, we are now focusing our efforts on other countries in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. There are some possibilities for resettling families in a few different generous countries. They will provide inexpensive housing, language training, job placement, community mentors. It's a difficult transition and will not work for all families.
We have raised partial funds for this effort both through your generosity and through the generosity of donors to Uplift Afghanistan. We need to raise more. Please send this link out to all your friends and your friends' friends and your acquaintances and your acquaintances' acquaintances. Every little bit helps on this long journey for our Afghan friends.
I'm posting a photo of artist Nahid Zamani's brilliant work!
I would like to share some updates with you. Many of the Afghans you have been so generously supporting have finally made it to military bases in the United States where they are awaiting resettlement in cities across the country. As you might remember from my last update, we have also flown thirty three Afghans to Albania. We are trying to find sponsors for them in the US and Canada. One of them Zoya Faizi, a women's rights activist who led a women's militia to fight the Taliban, was just the subject of a Channel 4 Dispatches episode. She still needs a sponsor for her family in case any of you have any ideas. We did manage to help two amazing young women who were caught between marrying Taliban or being killed by their families receive full scholarships to Bard College. If all goes well with their student visas at the US Embassy in Tirana, they will hopefully start college in January!
Our evacuation efforts however are not over. We are trying to help hundreds more who are in serious danger. Unfortunately, the US State Department has not authorized us to fly to Doha or to many of the other countries around the world who are willing to accept Afghans but want US Embassy approval. Moreover they are limiting evacuations only to those Afghans who hold a Special Immigrant Visa (known as SIVs). We've assessed that this resistance to take in more Afghans, especially non-SIV holders, is likely a direct order from the White House.
The problem is that many Afghans never imagined they'd have to leave home and never wanted to. So, of course they didn't apply for Special Immigrant Visas. They were too busy building their lives and their country. Those are precisely the Afghans we are trying to now help: a journalist who painted her face with the Afghan flag to resist the Taliban takeover, and just witnessed the murder of her friends; a journalist whose husband was arrested by the Taliban and returned to her bloodied and broken boned; a prosecutor in hiding from the Taliban she sent to prison.
Meanwhile, winter has arrived. Many of these families have had to flee their homes after the Taliban came searching for them. They left with hardly any belongings. For the most part, they're unable to get money out of the bank. With your donations we have rented apartments and found safe houses for them. We have purchased heaters, blankets, jackets. We are providing three meals a day, as well as medical assistance for those in need. We are helping to secure passports for those who don't have them. Your generosity has made all this possible but we are coming to the end of our funds.
We are asking for your continued support to help these families--journalists, doctors, human rights activists, teachers, prosecutors--their children and elderly parents make it through the next weeks and possibly months while we try to help them out. We have decided that if we cannot get a charter flight out, we will secure visas and find commercial flights to get them out family by family.
It's slow and difficult but we are not going to turn our backs on those we have promised to try and help. The UN has predicted one of the worst famines in history may soon hit Afghanistan. Let's keep these families safe and fed, and let's keep trying to help them escape from the brutality of the Taliban regime. Please spread the word and let people know they can continue to donate here. Or please go to www.upliftafghanistan.org and donate on the evacuation and resettlement page. We are partnering with the inimitable humanitarian, Ilaha Eli Omar, one of the founders of Uplift Afghanistan. Thank you again for your commitment and compassion! You have restored so many peoples' faith in human kindness during this very dark time in history.
Hello all of you and thank you again for all your incredible generosity. We continue to support people in safe houses in Afghanistan as they await their onward journey. We have a bit of good news. We have managed to get a lot of people out of Afghanistan to Doha and Albania which means we can help more in need—women’s rights activists, judges, prosecutors, journalists, artists, and many many others still trapped inside. As you can imagine, this is the most vulnerable time in their lives. They are fleeing persecution, with just a backpack of belongings, to destinations as far afield as Qatar, UAE, Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Ecuador. Many families will need help acquiring basic supplies, getting medical care, finding jobs, completing paperwork and navigating bureaucracy to find a permanent new home.
Your funds will help with safe houses inside Afghanistan, charter planes, and on the ground expenses required to take care of these families as they await asylum or immigration. We are now urgently raising money for charter planes—approximately $700,000 per plane. You can either donate here. Or if you want a tax exempt donation, we are partnering with Ilaha Eli Omar, one of the founders of Uplift Afghanistan. www.upliftafghanistan.org and then you can see the whole organization and go to the Afghan Refugee Resettlement Fund.
Also I want to give you an idea of some of the people you helped on their journey as they waited, week after week, having no idea if they would make it out. Prominent women’s rights activists, two of whom led an all women’s militia to resist the Taliban in the final days of Afghanistan’s collapse. Young Afghans who worked at the US embassy. Afghans who’d worked for the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Prominent Afghan journalists with Tolo Media, Radio Television Afghanistan, Khurshid TV, Ariana TV, and their families. (See photo of the young women journalists on the plane!) A couple who had their own progressive YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/ranaandqudrat and https://youtu.be/TamQe8JimCs
Members of a heavy metal band called Rig Veda – one of whom was an Afghan diplomat. Translators who worked for the U.S. military, one of whom’s father was shot in the leg by the Taliban in August as he tried to get out via HKIA. Another was the wife of an interpreter who had been assassinated a year before because of his work for the U.S. A well-known female presenter and journalist for Ariana TV who ended up with a blood infection after the weeks of turmoil. She was treated in a hospital in Doha and is now doing well. An award-winning Persian poet and literary figure, and a founder of PEN Afghanistan, who is now safely in Albania. And so many others.
Hi All. I know it's been a while since we have updated you. I have some very good news. Several hundred have made it to temporary destinations outside Afghanistan. They have to go through a lot of paperwork and immigration bureaucracy and this can take time. But at least they are on their way. We still have many more to go and your funds are continuing to take care of people at the most devastating time in their lives. We are going to partner with Uplift Afghanistan which is a 501 c3 founded by Ilaha Eli Omar, a formidable activist and organizer for Afghans with special needs and now all Afghans in need. Last Exit Kabul will be one chapter in this larger organization. As soon as that's set up I'll let you know! Thank you again. ❤️
Hi everyone. We want to update you on the journey of our friends in Afghanistan. As you can imagine, the waiting and uncertainty is causing intense anxiety. With your donations however we have been able to rent safe places for families and women to stay while they wait. And wait. And wait. They are getting meals, medical care, even wheelchairs. We are partnering with Ilaha Eli Omar, an activist and mobilizer for Afghans with disabilities and special needs. She is now working around the clock to assist all Afghans in need including the hundreds you are supporting. The good news is that we have recently secured visas for everyone to another country. And negotiations to let them travel are continuing. It is so encouraging to see the outpouring of generosity from all of you all over the world. We will update you with more news in the next day or two. Thank you so much from all of us!!
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