After two decades of war, Afghanistan is once again in the hands of the Taliban. The militia group, designated as a terrorist organization throughout the West, swept through the country as quickly as U.S. and its allies retreated.
The speed of the offensive took many off guard and was complete when the Taliban entered and took control of capital Kabul within days, triggering mass panic among citizens. Images from the city showed thousands inside the international airport in the hopes of fleeing the country.
And much like the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, some believe the hasty retreat in Afghanistan will create a refugee crisis.
Weeks before Kabul was taken, the U.S. military began flying in a group of 2,500 Afghan citizens to Virginia, where they will take part in a resettlement program. The group contains 700 Afghans who helped the U.S. during the war and their families. Another 1,000 are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
But those numbers are likely to grow significantly as more Afghan citizens who helped during the U.S’s longest conflict apply for refugee status.
Below is a list of refugee groups scattered throughout the U.S. and ways you can help and get help.
The Mobile-based Catholic Services Refugee Resettlement Program was started shortly after the South Vietnamese government fell in 1975. Since then, thousands of refugees have taken advantage of Alabama’s only resettlement program, which offers direct cash assistance and medical insurance for eight months, and help finding a job. It’s partially funded by the federal government.
How to get help: 251.434.1550, or by email at email@example.com
You can donate to the emergency fund here.
Although much smaller in size, refugee non-profit Canopy in the north west region of the state has welcomed 200 refugees since 2016. The group offers intensive case management and financial support for up to six months. Canopy also assists with housing needs, schooling, employment and help with government forms.
How you can help: Unlike larger organizations that often just need cash to operate, Canopy is heavily reliant on the community for support. While you can donate by giving cash, cars, among other things, the organization needs tutors, after school volunteers and help with its entrepreneurship program, Plan It! The program is currently seeking people with skills in accounting, marketing, general business, legal consultation, etc.
How to get help: 479-717-7358 or email here.
Given Florida’s size and diversity, there are far more options for refugee assistance. Lutheran Services is a big presence in the state and claims to have helped 1 in 50 Floridians since it was created amid the Vietnamese and Cuban refugee crisis in the early 1980s. It primarily offers help with family reunification, youth services, employment and trafficking victim assistance.
How you can help: The organization is currently accepting donations.
How to get help: Phone: (813) 875-1408 or start your application here.
Friends of Refugees is based in Clarkston, Georgia, referred to as the most diverse square mile in America. The city, located on the outskirts of Atlanta, welcomes 1,500 refugees a year and has seen as many as 40,000 over the last 25 years. The organization, although small, offers career programs, business accelerators, youth programs and literacy programs for women and young children.
How can you help: Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, including support for pregnant mothers and agriculture and nutritional support.
How to get help: 404-292-8818, firstname.lastname@example.org
The state government also offers assistance here.
Kentucky Refugee Ministries is a faith-based non-profit organization operating out of Louisville and Lexington. The resettlement program offers basic needs and a pathway to self-sufficiently, one of the pillars of the organization. In addition to extensive assistance in learning English and finding a job, KYRM has youth and elder programs in addition to arts and cultures events and classes.
How can you help: KYRM has a list of required household items and also is seeking bicycles and cars. There’s also currently a school supply drive accepting donations through Amazon (Lousiville) and (Lexington). Cold weather clothing is also always welcome. Other ways to donate are here.
How to get help: The main office can be reached at (502) 479-9180
As you might expect, the Archdiocese of New Orleans plays a big role in refugee settlement in the city. The organization collects refugees from the airport and helps guide them from refugee to citizen. It also prioritizes mental health of those coming in while assisting in the English classes and employment.
How can you help: Currently, the Archdiocese is looking for as many as eight interns to work in refugee resettlement.
How to get help: (504) 310-6862 or fill out this online form.
Mississippi hasn’t been much of a destination for refugees over the last 20 years. Between 2002 and the end of 2019, the state helped resettle 130 refugees.
But there is limited assistance through two Catholic Charities in Mississippi. One in Jackson and the other in Gulfport. Both offer legal assistance, community integration and advocacy.
How to get help: Jackson (601) 355.8634, Gulfport (228) 701-0555
The Charlotte-based Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society. This year the organization expects to resettle around 175 refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, Congo, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Eretria, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Central America.
The CRRA takes care of basic needs, including food and accommodation, school registration for children and English as a Second Language classes. (ESL)
How can you help: Federal grants do not cover the operational expenses of the CRRA, so cash donations are welcome. The organization also takes furniture and home supplies. A full list is here. Volunteers are sought after at the CRRA to help with driving refugees to appointments, setting up apartments, among other duties.
How to get help: The main office number is Office: 704.535.8803.
South Carolina’s refugee resettlement program works primarily with two voluntary organizations: Lutheran Services, which cover both North and South Carolina, and offers extensive assistance to refugees when they arrive and throughout the immigration process.
The other group is World Relief based in Greenville. The faith-based organization partners with local churches and volunteers to ensure that refugees are able to integrate successfully into life in South Carolina.
How can you help: Lutheran Services is currently looking for volunteers to help with day-to-day refugee assistance. It also has a number of ways to donate.
World Relief takes donations, but also allows donors to buy kits for each part of the house.
How to get help: Lutheran Services in North Carolina can be contacted here: (919) 832-2620 or Email NCrefugee@LSCarolinas.net. South Carolina services: Call (803) 750-9917 or Email SCrefugee@LSCarolinas.net.
World Relief can be reached at 864-729-8655.
Starting operations in 1982, Bridge Refugee Services has helped over 2,400 people settle in East Tennessee. The non-profit organization offers protection and resettlement programs, including housing, food and job opportunities.
How you can help: The Bridge is currently seeking volunteers to help with transportation, English tutoring, group projects and as community guides. You can also donate here.
How to get help: The Chattanooga office can be reached at (423) 954-1911. The Knoxville office can be reached at (865) 540-1311
Texas was once a haven for refugees, taking in the most refugees per state in 2018, according to the most recently available stats. However, at the beginning of 2020 Governor Greg Abbot said the state would opt out of the federal refugee resettlement program.
Despite that statement, the Refugee Services of Texas organization has locations across the state and is expected to receive a few hundred Afghan refugees in the near future.
The organization has offices in Dallas, Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Rio Grande Valley. It offers a number of services to refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied minors, survivors of human trafficking and recipients of the Special Immigrant Visa, which is what Iraqi and Afghan citizens who worked with the U.S. military are being offered.
Alongside basic services such as food and accommodation, RST also has a medical program that works with people who are sick and injured. There is also a youth mentoring program, an English language program, community wellness and legal services.
How to get help? RST has different contact numbers depending on your location and needs. It’s main number is (214) 821-4422.
Before the refugee crisis began in Afghanistan, Virginia had already welcomed 2,500 Afghan citizens. The group was part of the Special Immigrant Visa program and brought 700 Afghan people who helped the U.S. during the war there. The remaining 1,800 refugees are family members.
Since 2016, Virginia has taken in nearly 13,000 refugees, with over 8,500 coming from Afghanistan.
Currently, the state refugee service works with Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington-Migration and Refugee Services, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Church World Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council, International Rescue Committee and Lutheran Social Services. Links to the organizations can be found here.
How can you help? Each organization takes donations and wants volunteers.
How to get help?
Catholic Charities of Arlington: 703-841-3830
Commonwealth Catholic Charities: 804.285.5900
Church World Service: 540-433-7942
Ethiopian Community Development Council: 703 685 0510
International Rescue Committee: 804) 308-9144
Lutheran Refugee Services: (202) 723-3000