People in Afghanistan are grappling with a developing crisis after the Taliban took control of much of the country and seized the capital, Kabul.
Thousands are at risk under the insurgents’ regime after two decades of Western military presence ended abruptly in early August. The Islamist militants, who ruled the country by terror and violence in the 1990s, swept across Afghanistan in a matter of days.
The collapse of the Afghan government triggered a humanitarian emergency.
Taliban militants controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, enforcing a brutal form of Islamic law involving violent punishments, public executions and the exclusion of women from public life.
The group remained active in the region while not in power, infamously shooting women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai in the head for attending school in Pakistan when she was just 15 years old. She made a full recovery, going on to graduate from Oxford University and becoming the youngest ever person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
A return to the strict and brutal regime is the primary concern among progressives in the country. Female journalists, politicians, bloggers, and teachers have all reported fearing for their lives and footage posted online shows people trying to flee to safer countries, clinging to departing aeroplanes.
Millions are living in fear of what Taliban oppression could mean for them. Here’s what you can do to help.
Write to your MP
Campaigners say one of the best things people living in safety in the UK can do is write to their MPs to demand the government sets up a safe route for Afghan refugees to seek asylum here.
More than 2,500 Afghan people were already in limbo waiting on decisions to be made about their asylum claims in the UK, according to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Westminster has not yet made a commitment to resettling people fleeing the Taliban, despite Canada pledging to accept 20,000 people and expectations that the US will resettle 30,000.
MPs will debate the crisis on Wednesday, August 18. Dominic Raab, foreign secretary, said ministers are working on a “bespoke” scheme in response to the crisis.
You can find your MP here, and many experts have provided templates on social media. But even if you don’t know who your local representative is, online services such as Write To Them make it easy to send them your concerns.
Sign a petition
Thousands of people in the UK have already added their name to a number of petitions demanding Westminster politicians act urgently to support Afghan people in danger.
More than 91,000 so far have signed a petition urging ministers to commit to resettling 20,000 people from Afghanistan, with very few safe and legal routes available to those fleeing violence. The upcoming Nationality and Borders Bill threatens to narrow their options even further.
Another petition, backed by more than 100,000 people so far, calls on the UK government to immediately devise a refugee plan and do more to protect the safety of women and girls in Afghanistan.
Donate to a charity helping people in Afghanistan
There are many expert organisations well-placed to provide support on the ground in Afghanistan, but they need cash to do it.
Afghanaid is running a crisis appeal to provide emergency support and supplies to families displaced by conflict in Afghanistan. That includes financial help to afford somewhere to stay and food to eat, hygiene kits and solar powered stoves.
Women for Afghan Women has a long history of opposing gender-based oppression in Afghanistan and is calling for financial support to keep operating through the crisis, with women in the country put in positions of danger overnight.
The UN Refugee Agency is also working to meet the immediate need for food, water and shelter, as well as lobbying neighbouring countries to make it easier for Afghan people to flee across their borders.
Islamic Relief has already distributed tens of thousands of food parcels to vulnerable families across Afghanistan, and is accepting donations through its emergency fund to continue supporting those displaced by the crisis.
The Baba Mazari Foundation, which provides scholarships for children and works to stamp out child labour, has partenered with a number of other organisations to set up an emergency fund for victims of the Taliban. It will provide food, supplies and cash support for families forced to flee their homes.
The International Rescue Committee has been in Afghanistan since 1988, providing work opportunities and education as well as aid, and is giving tents, food and financial help to displaced families.
Support journalism on the ground in Afghanistan
Rukshana Media – named after a woman who was stoned to death by the Taliban in 2015 – is a journalism outlet run by Afghan women. Their work puts them at significant risk under the harsh new regime.
The organisation is fundraising to ensure it can continue paying staff at a time when their reporting is more vital than ever.