By Silgai Mohmand
Chapman University, Fowler School of Law 2021
Co-Founder of Muslawmah
Sunday, August 15, 2021, the world heard about the takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan, yet many turned a blind eye. Afghans in America had been tirelessly asking people to learn about what is happening in Afghanistan and to put pressure on the U.S. government to do something. But all we heard was silence. It was as though the plight of Afghans was not something pressing or that should deserve attention.
This is not something new. Since 2001, when the United States invaded Afghanistan in the name of the “war on terror”, Afghan lives have been deemed insignificant. Over 100,000 civilians have died due to the war alone, yet no one besides Afghans mention these numbers. Afghanistan is in a state of poverty, yet no one mentions that. Afghans have been displaced from their homes, yet no one mentions it. People have always been hesitant to speak out about Afghanistan in the past and present, because speaking out about Afghanistan would mean speaking out against the war and on a larger note, the “war on terror”.
While the war has ended, the effects of it have not. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled Afghanistan to various countries, including the United States, as refugees. They are stuck at bases, waiting to be vetted to enter the United States. Afghans in the US who are trying to get their families and friends out have been filing numerous humanitarian parole applications and having to bear the rising costs without any assistance from the government. Those Afghans that remained in Afghanistan are facing struggles such as poverty, cold winters, and lack of resources. And most importantly, they are living under a government that they fear.
Afghan women and men in the United States and across the world have been working tirelessly for the last few months to fix the effects of the policies that created the war in the first place. When the Afghan diaspora saw the plight of Afghanistan, they essentially became immigration lawyers, policy advocates, community organizers, and teachers overnight. The Afghan community has been able to do more for Afghanistan and refugees than the US government has in the last few months.
As a first-generation Afghan American woman, I recognize my privilege in being able to even write my thoughts on this platform. It pains me that my people are suffering while I am typing on a laptop from the safety of my house. As I write this, I think of my resilient and strong Afghan sisters and brothers in Afghanistan who wake up every day, uncertain about what the future holds for them. I think of the children who grew up seeing violence and bloodshed in their country. I think of the trauma that Afghans have gone through over and over again.
What I hope you take away from this piece is an awareness about Afghanistan. I hope you are motivated to start talking about Afghanistan with your family, friends, and colleagues. I hope you are encouraged to start working with Afghan organizations and help them with their efforts. But most of all, I hope that you help an Afghan refugee feel welcome as they enter the United States.
Because it is hope that has allowed Afghans to keep going even when the world failed them.