Earlier this August, the Taliban took over the country of Afghanistan after nearly two decades of war. Today, the Taliban brutalizes and detains journalists in attempts to censor protests currently happening in Kabul. Though it is unclear what the future of Afghanistan will look like for civilians, Canadians have been playing a vital role in ushering Afghan refugees to safety. Through governmental policies, national non-profit organizations, and financial assistance, Afghans will be able to seek support and shelter in Canada.
The Canadian government has been implementing several programs and policies to aid Afghans in escaping the Taliban takeover. Canada’s special immigration program transports Afghans as quickly as possible by sending officials and soldiers along both the Canadian border and the Afghan front.
Additionally, the department of Foreign Affairs has been working to resettle 20,000 refugees as of August 13. Canada’s leaders have been aiming to implement special immigration programs for Afghans who contributed to helping Canada defeat the Taliban along with initiatives for vulnerable groups such as women in leadership, LGBTQIA+, human rights activists, persecuted religious minorities, and more.
Several Canada-based, non-profit organizations are working on an international scale to help not only Afghan refugees, but Afghans in their home country who are unable to escape or are at high risk during Taliban rule.
The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County is an Ontario non-profit organization working to facilitate the immigration process of Afghans through the federal government as well as helping these refugees acclimate to Canada. Similarly, Islamic Relief Canada is using donations to ensure that displaced Afghans have access to food, water, and hygiene.
As for combatting feminist issues in relation to the Afghan crisis, the Canadian headquarters at Women for Women International are using financial contributions to help female survivors of militaristic conflict to find shelter and stay connected for support.
Meanwhile, Wais Habibzai, an Ontario-based Afghan-Canadian entrepreneur, is making an effort by gathering his own personal income to make a positive difference for members of his native community. Habibzai, a Toronto property developer who fled from Afghanistan to Canada in 1992 after his house was destroyed, has spent $50,000 in essential supplies to mitigate the burdens of displaced refugees.
Habibzai has also worked vigorously to recruit dozens of volunteer translators and turn conference rooms in refugee hotels into storage rooms for clothing and necessary items.
University of Toronto’s International Vice-President Joseph Wong recently released a letter in support of the university’s Afghan students. In the letter, Wong offers support to students struggling with the aftermath of the recent news and sheds light on university support programs such as the Employee and Family Assistance Program, My SSP, and the Emergency Watch Centre.
In an interview with The Medium, Professor Michael Akladios of the department of historical studies at UTM mentions the role of the government and what it should do to help Afghans. “I believe that the Canadian government has a responsibility to clarify and improve procedures on the ground in Afghanistan to evacuate and resettle refugees.”
He goes on to say, “the terrible tragedies we are witnessing in Afghanistan are neither natural nor preordained. Accurate, informed conclusions require both nuance and a recognition of complexity. More should be done to raise awareness and educate the Canadian public, and to support the work of NGOs that require financial contributions to continue their relief and resettlement efforts.”
With the rapid events evolving in Afghanistan, members of the UTM community and organizations across Canada will continue to show their commitment to supporting and welcoming Afghan refugees.