Afghan SIV’s as of 8/19/21-
First off, I want to thank those who have reached out in recent days (and really, over the last couple months) to learn about how they may be able to help with the events unfolding in Afghanistan. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge the devastating heart break for Missoula families originally from Afghanistan and/or with ties to Afghanistan who are currently scrambling to see that loved ones have a path to safety. In this email we hope to give you brief information on what is happening, a few resources, and possible ways you can help.
WHAT TO KNOW:
While the news continues to change daily, and even hourly in some cases, this is where we are in the moment I write this.
In the briefest terms, with the announcement of the US withdraw from Afghanistan a few months ago, the Taliban has steadily started to take over towns and cities, most recently the capitol city of Kabul- replacing Afghan government officials and military leaders, including the democratically elected president. We are all watching the chaos unfoldall over the news. The return of the Taliban and the reality of surviving under their rule is terrifying for many Afghans- especially women who are at risk of loosing the many rights they have gained over the last two decades (opportunities for education, ability to work, to name a few), and also for those who have served foreign governments and NGOs. Afghans who have worked with US military (sacrificing their safety and that of their families to assist our troops) have been targets for the Taliban for decades and because of this, there was a promise made and a path created to resettle these individuals and their families in the United States under aSpecial Immigrant Visa (SIV). While recently, President Biden has expanded SIV options and promised speedy processing for those in danger, this path has been around since 2006 and has been frustratingly slow and arduous for those promised safety in return for assisting the US in our mission in Afghanistan. Commitment to those Afghans in danger has been renewed, but in the wake of an incredibly fast takeover by the Taliban leaving over 10,000 Americans still in the country with a compromised airport and questions of how and when to even get Americans out, those of us advocating for SIVs and their families are left wondering how the US will fulfill the promise to get folks out by the August 31st date set for a full US withdraw.
I know many of you are interested in hearing what this means for Afghan families in Missoula, those that may be coming here under the SIV process, and those of us trying to help. Unfortunately, at this time there are no completely clear answers for this, but I will try my best to give what info I have. Again, this is a snapshot of time, and things may change quickly.
HOW TO HELP:
At this moment there isn’t a clear path for non-tie (those without a known family member or other tie in Missoula) SIV cases to be resettled to Missoula. Most Afghan SIVs are going to initially be placed in cities with larger Afghan populations- these states included in this at the moment ate VA/DC, CA, TX, and WI. The resettlement agency here in Missoula- the International Rescue Committee (IRC)- is a large part of the on the ground relief in Afghanistan, as well as the resettlement of SIVs in the US, but currently no non-tie cases are officially slated to come here to their Missoula office. That said, they are currently working with a handful of cases that have a local tie to another location in Montana and may be working with more, IF approved in this new SIV designation. We would encourage those interested in assisting these families in their resettlement to learn more about amonetary or in-kind gift to the IRC MIssoula.
As far as Soft Landing’s work right now in this area, as we are not a resettlement agency and other than support and advocacy, we don’t have a way any more than anyone else to create a path for SIV’s to come to Missoula. That said, we are working furiously with Afghans we know to support them in trying to get at-risk family members processed through the open SIV and other application processes. Our hearts and days have been consumed by this and we need your help in advocating for these families. PLEASE contact Senator Tester,Senator Daines, andRepresentative Rosendale and let them know of your interest in America’s commitment to vulnerable SIVs and specifically that getting SIV families with ties to Montana (Missoula is not the only location with ties to SIV cases) is an incredibly urgent matter. While we can’t make promises at this time on who or how many folks we may assist if approval is made to come to Missoula, we are currently putting resources and energy towards this and you are welcome to also support that work in a monetary donation toSoft Landing.
I know that with limited options to help right here in Missoula, many of you are also interested in helping beyond the local level. There are many great organizations out there that are doing direct work, as well as advocacy. I will list a couple below and you can give and get involved where your interests find a home.
Grassroots community based organizations across the US:
(These orgs are all part of the network Soft Landing is in- the Hello Neighbor Network– and we are in close contact with them and they are working hard with new Afghan families in their communities!):
Direct Aid in Afghanistan:
Afghan-based and run org:
Again, thank you for your attention and your heartfelt desires to help those currently in so much need during this crisis.
In love and gratitude,
ED Soft Landing Missoula