Our hearts are heavy at the harrowing scenes of Afghan allies and refugees seeking to flee their homeland as the Taliban tightens its grip on the country. Leaving everything they have behind, some 400,000 Afghans have been forced from their homes since the beginning of the year. As May drew to an end, it is estimated that 80% of the nearly quarter million Afghans being displaced are women, children, and people who are the most vulnerable to persecution and violence. In the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area alone, approximately 2,000 Afghan individuals and families have relocated to the U.S. under the Operation Allies Refuge. Thousands more are expected to come in the upcoming weeks. The human toll of this spiraling crisis is immense. And, we have a moral obligation to offer refuge to our allies, their families, and others at risk of persecution.
Even before Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced that we are “ready to and willing” to take in more Afghan refugees,” immigrants’ rights advocates, attorneys, and volunteers in the DMV area have been working tirelessly to support Afghan families in distress. Acting with a great sense of urgency, these groups are setting up homes for Afghan refugees, helping refugees with visa processes, providing medical screening, food, religious support, and other necessities. Many volunteers who help people resettle are themselves refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders. Some have loved ones and family members still trapped in Afghanistan, who are looking desperately for a way out. These organizing efforts on the ground make a big difference to the lives of thousands of people who have just had their country, their community, and everything they own brutally taken away from them.
The ACLU affiliates of Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland are in solidarity with our Afghan neighbors, as well as the groups and organizations working tirelessly to support them.
We cannot turn our backs on refugees and betray our nation’s aspirational values.
We must protect the rights of people who are being displaced, who need not only immediate relief but also long-term support as they resettle and rebuild their lives in a new country.
Each of us can show up and act now. Here are some concrete actions you can take:
- If you want to volunteer for airport pickup, apartment setups, and/or to provide meals for Afghan individuals and families, go to https://bit.ly/LIRSConnect
- If you want to help provide transportation, housing, and other basic needs for people and families fleeing persecution at Fort Lee in Virginia, go to https://bit.ly/FortLeeSupport
- Here are NGOs/charities working in Afghanistan you can support: https://bit.ly/AfghanSupportOrgs
Below is a list of organizations and resettlement groups working to help resettle Afghan people in the DMV area:
Muslim-led charitable organizations:
- Homes Not Borders (Washington D.C.)
- Justice for Muslims Collective (Washington D.C.)
- Muslim Aid USA (McLean, VA)
- Islamic Relief USA (Alexandria, VA)
- Mustafa Center (Annadale, VA)
Non-Muslim charitable organizations:
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (Baltimore, MD)
- Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (Washington D.C.)
- HIAS (Silver Spring, MD)
- Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Washington (Washington D.C.)
In a time of crisis, it’s important that we all stand together to help those in need. We must be a welcoming nation and live up to the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty. We’ve done it in the past, we can do it again.