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What will happen to fleeing Afghans arriving in the US and how you can help

Fleeing Afghanistan refugees
Posted at 6:25 AM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 09:25:11-04

With the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghanistan government and the rise of the oppressive Taliban to power, thousands of Afghans have sought to flee the country in recent days.

Heartbreaking images have shown desperate Afghans storming airports and clinging to the exterior of airplanes as they try to leave the country and escape the Taliban.

The U.S. plans to evacuate thousands of Afghans who applied with the State Department for special immigrant visas (SIVs) in the coming weeks. On Monday, Department of Defense officials estimated that they'll be able to evacuate as many as between 5,000 and 9,000 people from Kabul until Aug. 31, when their mission ends.

Many of those seeking safe harbor are translators who assisted the U.S. military in fighting the Taliban, and others are people who fear torture and death for opposing the group in the past.

Afghans arriving in the U.S. on SIVs will get temporary housing from the Department of Defense on military bases, including Fort Bliss in Texas, Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, Fort Lee in Virginia, and McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. They will stay on military bases until other government agencies can find them more permanent homes.

Three federal agencies — the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — are primarily in charge of resettling refugees. While the federal government ultimately has the authority to determine where refugees can settle, they work with local and state governments to find new homes for those displaced.

Those with SIVs will receive government assistance similar to that for refugees for their first few years in the U.S. In addition, local and state governments work with charities and nonprofits to ensure refugees have the resources they need to thrive in their new homes.

Those nonprofits include the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, the World Relief Corporation and the International Rescue Committee. Click here for a complete list of resettlement agencies that work with the federal government to aid people with SIVs and refugees.

In addition to donating to the resettlement agencies listed above, those looking to help refugees from Afghanistan can donate to Women for Afghan Women — a group that supports Afghan women in the U.S. — and the International Refugee Assistance Project.