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Thu Aug 19, 2021, 09:46 AM

Here's what you can do to help Afghan interpreters and refugees

The collapse of Afghanistan has reached a fever pitch in recent days. Social media feeds and cable news broadcasts are awash with heart-wrenching scenes of Afghans scrambling to leave the country as the Taliban tightens its grip. And the situation is increasingly desperate for interpreters and other Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and applicants such as contractors, commandos, and others — the Afghans who risked their lives alongside NATO troops. If you’re interested in trying to help them, we’re here to explain how.

The State Department, which is in charge of the SIV program, has allocated 34,500 SIVs for “Afghan principal applicants” since December 19, 2014. This runs in contrast to the at least 70,000 Afghans who need to be evacuated according to Matt Zeller, a U.S. Army Reserve captain and former CIA officer who has been spearheading efforts to evacuate people from Afghanistan. Just navigating the 14 steps needed to apply for the SIV program is a challenge, and then comes an estimated three-and-a-half-year wait for approval.

In June, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced the department had hired 50 more people to help process SIV applications, estimating they could now do 1,000 a month. Efforts have been taken in recent days to expedite the process but any new applications will still be buried underneath a massive backlog. According to multiple reports, the situation is essentially hopeless now for people outside of Kabul and growing increasingly worse even inside the city. Several outlets have reported that the Taliban are beginning to beat those waiting outside the airport and one interpreter was even shot. Reaching Kabul from anywhere else in the country is unlikely right now.

Task & Purpose has received a deluge of inquiries on how people can help, or where they can turn to receive help. Fortunately, there are several organizations and elected officials who are stepping up to ensure as many Afghans as possible are evacuated.


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