We at KIAC are paying close attention to the events unfolding in Afghanistan. Like all of you, we are heartbroken for the human beings caught in this humanitarian crisis, especially women, girls and LGBTQ+ Afghans.
We are in touch with the national immigration legal community, and have heard detailed reports from lawyers with clients in Afghanistan. The situation is fluid and chaotic. For now, most of the legal assistance is being provided on the ground in Afghanistan, in order to help those who have worked for the U.S. apply for visas or humanitarian parole so they are able to travel to the United States.
The Puget Sound region will be receiving an influx of refugees in the next days and weeks. There are numerous ways you can help with their resettlement. Both temporary and long-term housing is an urgent priority. Additionally, volunteers are needed to provide host homes, transport people from the airport, help settle people into apartments or assist with English language classes. Donations of household and other necessities, and cash donations are also needed.
Here are some tremendous organizations that are providing assistance, and all of them need volunteers and financial support.
The International Rescue Committee: This agency has a webpage with updated on-the-ground information, wish lists of items to purchase for “Welcome Kits,” a link to volunteer opportunities and other suggestions. https://www.rescue.org/announcement/how-help-our-afghan-neighbors-washington
World Relief, Seattle: This agency is calling for volunteers and donations, and has information for the Afghan community as well as volunteers and partners. https://worldrelief.org/seattle/get-involved/afghan-allies/
The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: This organization is seeking volunteers for airport pickups, mentoring, tutoring, and meal deliveries. They also need financial donations. https://www.lirs.org
Jewish Family Services, Seattle: They have created an Amazon wish list for household items and other necessities. https://www.amazon.com/registries/custom/30OKQF4EANM4V/guest-view They are also looking for car seats, and are accepting financial donations. https://www.jfsseattle.org
Afghan Health Initiative: This group provides access and support for physical and mental health services, as well as direct financial assistance to newly arrived refugees. https://afghanhealth.org/donate
Afghan American Community of Washington: This group provides religious, cultural and social support to the Afghan community while they are adapting to American society. https://aacwashington.org/faq/
Miles4Migrants accepts donated airline frequent flyer miles, credit card points and cash to help people reunite with loved ones or resettle in a new country after fleeing their own country imperiled by war, persecution or disaster. https://miles4migrants.org/
In addition to volunteering and donating, all of us can provide a welcome to these new arrivals in simple ways. We can advocate with national or local government to provide assistance to these refugees, start a conversation with a neighbor about the importance of providing safety and kindness to people who find themselves in a terrifying situation over which they have no control, or write a supportive letter to a local newspaper. Navid Hamidi, a former advisor to the U.S. military who is now the Executive Director of the Afghan Health Initiative, has the most direct advice of all: “Just be welcoming.”
The KIAC Team