How can we help people evacuate kabul?
Prepared by Australian South Asian Centre – 23 August 2021
Many in the international community want to help the people of Afghanistan, however, it’s important to know the situation on the ground to effectively help those in need. For broader context about the situation in Afghanistan, please read this document, this post will be focusing on helping people leave Kabul.
For people who already have visas:
- If they have visas to outbound locations immediate action can be taken.
- It’s unclear as to what is happening on the ground at the moment but load out and processing is still happening at the airport and the British ambassador is still signing visas.
- However, there have been reports that people with visas are unable to enter the airport unless they are escorted by a foreign official.
For those who don’t have visas to an outbound location:
- They’ll need to try and obtain a visa. Depending on their status, a visa could be obtained based on their circumstances.
- If they have no grounds for a US/UK/EU/AUS visa, advise them to photograph all the evidence of their collaboration with NATO, NGOs, foreign troops, human rights and community work (e.g., teaching English) etc.
- All this evidence/information needs to be transmitted to a trusted party outside of Afghanistan. Following this, all the hard copies of this evidence (e.g., photos, documents, files etc) should be in a safe location**
- Establish a comms plan with a trusted overseas contact and have regular established check-in dates via online apps or mobile phone.
Store your devices safely:
- Take the device and its charger, put them in a plastic bag and then hide them in a secure, dry place.
- Advise them to keep a low profile in their local communities and hide until more information is available, the situation settles, and land borders reopen to trade.
- The comms plan allows people on the outside to formulate ways to direct funds to them and evacuate them out via Pakistan or other neighbouring countries via the help of local allies/sympathisers in the region. It’s unlikely that the Taliban have the surveillance needed to track and identify people based on this type of communication.
- Eventually, remittances and cross border trade will restart. That’s the opportunity for people to get out to a prearranged location in a neighbouring country where onward arrangements can be made, but this window of time is very small.
- If they have grounds for a visa, it’s a different process (see above).
Organisations offering legal aid and/or helping people obtain visas:
- Refugee Legal Australia has an Afghanistan Information Sheet, covering information for those in Afghanistan trying to seek asylum in Australia and for Australians trying to obtain visas on behalf of their loved ones.
- Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Australia’s Legal Aid Information Sheet provides helplines, phone numbers and email addresses of organisations providing legal aid and paid legal services to assist with Temporary Protection Visa applications.
- Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) Australia is providing help with protection visas.
- If living in Canada: Email SituationAfghanistan.IRCC@cic.gc.ca or Canada-Afghanistan@international.gc.ca to inquire about an immigration program for Afghans and their families.
- Canadians trying to help Afghans can use Resettlement Assistance Program Website to search for local services providing legal aid, shelter, healthcare etc. for refugees.
- Refer your loved ones in Afghanistan to Awaaz Afghanistan, which provides a toll-free countrywide hotline number (410) providing information and assistance on the humanitarian crisis.
- Afghan Diaspora for Equality and Progress (ADEP) has created a toolkit for immigration relief for Afghans being provided by different countries. The list is regularly updated by ADEP volunteers
We, ASAC, have a contact who can help get high risk women & children onto a live list supported by a senator for a US visa, ASAP. Iran’s borders are said to be open. The Pakistan embassy is also still issuing visas and exit is allowed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and cc email@example.com if you’re not already on a US visa list and are high risk (ex government, activist or NGO women’s rights advocate).
Again, it’s encouraged if you’re based outside of Afghanistan that you read this document and take immediate action by contacting your relevant elected officials. It’s vital that they know that we care about the welfare of the people of Afghanistan and want to see concrete action taken to ensure their safety.