Resources for aiding at-risk Afghans

Organizations sponsoring at-risk cultural workers

• Tamizdat: a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that “facilitates and advocates for international cultural mobility and exchange immigration.”

• City of Asylum: a Pittsburgh-based organization offering a long-term residency for “endangered literary writers, so that the writers can continue to write and their voices are not silenced.”

Artists at Risk (AR): Safe haven residencies for artists at risk, urgent applications accepted at all times and available in multiple languages, translations of application form also available on request. Their position is that “artists are human rights defenders” and their open letter regarding the situation of artists in Afghanistan can be read here.

• Artists at Risk Connection (ARC): a program of PEN and the Mellon Foundation that “safeguards the right to artistic freedom of expression and ensures that artists and cultural professionals everywhere can live and work without fear.” The organization does this work by “assisting persecuted artists by connecting them to our growing global network of resources”; “facilitating cooperation among human rights and art organizations”; and “amplifying the stories and work of at-risk artists as well as raising visibility of the field of artistic freedom.”

• New York City Artist Safe Haven Residency Program: an emerging residency program run by Artists at Risk. “The program aims to activate up to six safe haven residency apartments within the Westbeth Artist Community over the next several years.”

• International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN): an “independent organization of cities and regions offering shelter to writers and artists at risk.” 

• Institute of International Education’s Artist Protection Fund: “The APF makes fellowship grants to threatened artists from any field of practice, and places them at host institutions in safe countries where they can continue their work and plan for their futures.” Funded by the Mellon Foundation. 

Resources for Afghans seeking assistance in obtaining refugee status and sponsorship

***An amazingly comprehensive explainer/resource list from Women for Afghan Women

• International Refugee Assistance Project: an organization that offers advice on legal pathways for refugees and sponsors in order to clarify eligibility for—and potential sources of—support.

• Artistic Freedom Initiative: a Brooklyn-based organization “led by immigration and human rights attorneys, AFI facilitates pro bono immigration representation and resettlement assistance for international artists who are persecuted or censored.” AFI is in urgent need of donations and is also seeking volunteers to assist with the unprecedented number of requests for legal assistance from Afghan artists, including volunteers with relevant experience in immigration law, legal document translation to/from Pashto and Dari, and data entry. Send an email with cv and/or relevant details to 

• Refugee Processing Center: an organization that runs a system “built to assist in the processing of refugees to the United States.” The RPC provides instructions for placing people on the State Department’s list of refugees if they are eligible for SIV or P-2 visas because they’ve worked for the American military or US-based NGOs, media organizations, etc. (Note: as of late August, the RPC’s mailbox has been filling up and bouncing emails back, so if you submit a P-2 referral package check your spam folder for about twenty minutes afterward to make sure that your email actually went through.)

• For Afghans seeking evacuation on the basis of humanitarian parole: consider placing the name of the individual Afghans on the Human Rights First list of people “who are in need of an evacuation out of Kabul.” Artists at Risk is also referring people to the State Department. And, as of August 24, charter flights are being organized by No One Left Behind (for SIV-eligible Afghans) and FFSEvac (website is not yet up).

Opportunities for volunteering and donating

• See the official SIV resettlement cities in the US for Afghans and Iraqis without family in the country. Institutions and individuals in these cities are encouraged to explore how they can help refugees; there are already local calls being made for people to help with resettlement efforts.

• See the Afghan American Foundation’s list of resources for volunteering to, e.g., provide pro bono legal assistance, fill out paperwork, pick new arrivals up from airports, help to set up the apartments of refugees, and provide meals. Interpreters are also needed.

• Donate to humanitarian aid efforts in Afghanistan or to resettlement funds for Afghan refugees.

• Donate money to cover the costs of charter flights being organized by No One Left Behind and Flyaway

• Call and email your elected officials, especially Senators and Representatives, and encourage them to ensure that at-risk Afghans are able to evacuate the country and obtain asylum. Here is a list (to be updated continually) of officials who have been particularly receptive to this effort and have expressed interest in helping Afghans: Andy Kim (NJ); Grace Meng (NY); Jeanne Shaheen (NH); Ilhan Omar (MN); John Mues (MT); Tom Cotton (AZ); Eric Swallwell (CA). Note that some of these are only helping SIV-eligible Afghans or stranded citizens; Andy Kim and Eric Swallwell’s offices have been the most expansive in their assistance. More notes on specific contacts in their offices in the Women for Afghan Women list above.

Additional resources are being added here on an ongoing basis