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As the U.S. and other Western military forces leave Afghanistan and cease their support of the Afghan military forces, the Taliban are advancing and retaking areas from which they were driven approximately twenty years ago. An assessment of the current situation and unfolding human catastrophe in Afghanistan can be found here, and you can learn more about U.S. efforts to evacuate tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and support personnel here. The situation is nothing short of horrendous, affecting tens of thousands of Afghan families, and this article provides some background on the Taliban and its rapid military advance.
The last twenty years of U.S. and Western involvement have been highly contentious and problematic, but have also allowed the most vulnerable parts of Afghan society to live relatively free of extremist and oppressive religious ideologies: women and girls have been able to make decisions about their own lives, pursuing education, or dressing, speaking, and traveling with some degree of independence. As the Taliban reclaim their former control over various provinces, such freedoms are likely to disappear and already signs of oppression based on religious extremism are emerging.
What is the role of college campuses?
The Presidents’ Alliance – a national organization that brings together colleges and universities around issues of immigration, and of which MSU Denver is a part – wrote to Secretaries Blinken and Mayorkas urging action to protect Afghan students, scholars, researchers, and their families seeking to come to the United States. The letter included a set of specific recommendations, such as the use of special student relief, flexibility for student and exchange visa requirements, humanitarian parole, Temporary Protected Status, and increasing visa processing capabilities. To assist Afghan Refugees in the resettlement and visa application process, the U.S. State Department has also set up a page to aid in the process, and it is vital that schools and support agencies provide this information to those who could benefit.
As students, staff, and faculty, we can assist refugees as they make their way to safety and settle into their new home in Colorado!
While donations of physical is not always a good option (as they can overwhelm aid organizations and support centers), several organizations in Denver have made lists of items needed to help refugees settle into their new homes. For example, the International Rescue Committee has put together a list of needed items for donation kits, and Lutheran Family Services provides this helpful apartment bin checklist.
As business owners, supervisors, and organizational leaders, we may be in a position to help professionals with a refugee background put their skills and education to work. Consider how you list your open positions, how you structure your job interviews, and how you select finalists with an eye towards support Colorado’s Flyer Town Hall Crisis in Afghanistan Sept 2021 FINAL Flyer donations for Afghanistan Sept 2021refugee and asylee communities, whose multi-cultural, multi-lingual perspectives are hugely valuable in work and business environments.
Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains’ Refugee & Asylee Volunteer Program offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities to tutor, mentor, and otherwise support and work closely with Colorado’s refugee communities! You can serve as an important liaison between refugee families and their new home.
To learn more about the current situation in Afghanistan, evacuation and resettlement efforts, and ways to support Colorado refugees, please join the upcoming Town Hall (virtual and in person)!
The panel of experts will feature:
Atim Otii, Director of the Denver Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs
Atim is a leader in immigration integration and has helped thousands of immigrants throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Prior to joining the city, Otii served as the Immigration Legal Services Director for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains for six years, where she led several immigrant focused programs from direct legal representation to social service support in Colorado and New Mexico. Otii leads DOIRA’s work centered around integrating immigrant and refugee communities through inclusive policy, programming, and partnerships.
Richard MacNamee, Director of the Cybersecurity Center at MSU Denver
Richard C. Mac Namee is assisting No One Left Behind in the evacuation of Afghanistan. Richard is a former UK and NATO Special Operations Commander and Operator with extensive experience in covert intelligence collection, technical surveillance and cyber operations against terrorist organizations and serious organized crime. His service included commitment to serve On Her Majesty’s Service with MI5 as well as assisting a number of commercial and governmental entities in IT infrastructure protection. Former Professor of The Practice at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M, Richard currently is a faculty member and Director of the Cybersecurity Center at MSU Denver.
Nike Pulda, Volunteer
Nike is a former Fulbright Scholar from Austria, EU. She completed her MA in International Affairs (National Security & Diplomacy) at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Governance and Public Service (2016-2018). She has been actively engaged in helping to support evacuation and resettlement efforts for people in/from Afghanistan.
Metra Mehran, Activist and Scholarship and M & E manager with the Women Scholarship Endowment Program in Afghanistan
Metra Mehran is an Afghan refugee. She is a Fulbright scholar, a graduate of Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Governance and Public Service, and a fellow with the National Center for Dialogue and Peace. She co-founded the Feminine Perspectives Movement in Afghanistan and is currently working with the Women Scholarship Endowment Program.
The Town Hall will take place on the Auraria campus, Tivoli room 320 ABC, Tuesday Sept. 14th, 12-1:15pm.
To sign up to attend the event virtually, please go to: https://msudenverswk.zoom.us/j/96877942211