Afghan American activist helped thousands trying to flee Afghanistan
Arash Azizzada, co-founder of Afghan activist groups in the United States, says his organization worked tirelessly to help citizens who wanted to flee the country after the Taliban victory.
ARASH AZIZZADA: I would say the past two plus weeks have been the most eventful of our collective personal lives. And I say this as an Afghan-American community organizer. But I think that’s especially true for a lot of people in the Afghan diaspora. We had to come together as a collective – us in the Afghan diaspora, us in the private sector, veterans, volunteers, human rights activists, community organizers – to figure out how to evacuate and bring our loved ones. and friends to safety and find a way to evacuate them. This has meant trying to figure out which Taliban checkpoints to avoid, as well as which gate is even accessible at the airport, figuring out what the immigration process looks like, and familiarizing yourself with the bureaucracy that exists and the articles that prohibit people from leaving. seek asylum, whether in the United States, Canada or Europe.
But I think the only tools available to me were … I didn’t have the resources. And the only tools available to me were my phone and my laptop and an internet connection. And that’s what – these were the things that we, I think, all used to do what we were trying to do. We still get messages from many, many people who feel left behind and abandoned, just to reflect how many people we have been able to help.
The kind of feeling we have from people on the ground, from the conversations we have had this morning, is that people are more and more desperate, more and more afraid of the Taliban. They feel abandoned by the West and the international community. The streets are empty. Banks have very little liquidity.
There is a looming crisis – there is both an economic crisis and a humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding right now that will affect 38 million people. And those 38 million or so people fear that the world’s spotlight will soon recede from them and be left to fend for themselves under a repressive Taliban regime. And I think a lot, a lot of people are afraid of what’s to come.