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Afghanistan Crisis: The Taliban Takes Over

Photo: Courtesy of Mohammad Rahmani

Afghanistan citizens are desperately attempting to flee the country as the Taliban takes over the Presidential Palace following US removal of troops.

What is Happening?

On Sunday, August 15th, a group known as the Taliban invaded and took control over the Afghanistan presidential palace in Kabul. This seizing of power occurred soon after an announcement made by President Biden that the U.S. would be completely pulling its troops out of Afghanistan after holding ground for two decades in what is known as “The Forever War.” 

The U.S. first declared that it would begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan in April of 2021, with the hope that the Afghan government and forces would be able to defend themselves against the Taliban. The Afghan army, however, had been largely paid for and equipped by the U.S. so, without this financial support, they were not prepared to continue pushing back against opposing forces by themselves. Within a matter of days, the Taliban had gained control over most of the country.  

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday, leaving Afghanistan vulnerable and resulting in its complete overtaking. Over the course of the next few days, Kabul has been in a state of chaos; traffic on the way to the airports is completely backed up and many citizens have resorted to holding onto the outside of U.S. air force planes in a desperate attempt to flee the country. 

Who are the Taliban?

The Taliban is an extremist islamic military group that was formed in 1994 by Afghan Mujahideen––islamic guerilla fighters that were against the Soviet Union’s control over Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. When Soviet troops were removed from power in the early 1990s, the Taliban began taking control, seizing the capital in 1996; the Taliban regime maintained control over 90% of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. 

The Taliban were created on a foundation of their skewed interpretation of Islamic values. When in control in the late 1990s, they strictly enforced these values which specifically involved systematic violations against women and girls. For example, women were forced to wear burkas at all times, they were not allowed to work and they were not permitted to receive an education after the age of eight. The Taliban aimed to create a “secure environment where the chastity and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct.”

U.S. Involvement 

After the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001––it was believed that the terrorists responsible for the attack were being protected by the Taliban––President George W. Bush signed a law that authorized the use of force in Afghanistan against the Taliban and those who carried out the attacks. The Taliban fell at the end of 2001, leaving members to retreat and scatter to the mountains.

For the past two decades, the U.S. has continued to provide troops and funding to Afghanistan, attempting to modernize the country under western leadership. Thousands of American troops, and tens of thousands of Afghan citizens have died in the process, and support for the “Forever War” has dwindled in recent years. 

Why are people fleeing?

Afghan citizens are currently living in fear that a new Taliban regime will include the strict rules enforced when the Taliban last held control over Afghanistan. Women, specifically, are terrified that they will enter a regression where their rights are once again stripped away from them.

Taliban leaders have made statements promising that women’s rights will be honored and encouraging women and girls to return to school and work. These vows were broken the day that they were made as, on Tuesday August 17th, a woman was shot in the street for not wearing a Burka. Skepticism and doubts that the Taliban’s statements hold truth has sent the country into a panic to flee the country. 

Here are a few organizations that you can donate to in order to help ensure the safety of those currently held under Taliban rule:

  • Global Giving is a nonprofit organization that has started an Afghanistan Emergency Fund that aims to provide safety to at-risk Afghan citizens, including women, children, and activists. “All donations to this fund will support both emergency and long-term relief in Afghanistan.”
  • World Help is a Christian humanitarian organization that works to serve the needs of those in impoverished communities. “Their main priority right now is getting food and water to refugees who are temporarily settled out in the open with no shelter until they can be relocated to camps.”
  • Afghanaid is a British humanitarian and development organization that was created to help those impoverished and deprived in remote Afghan communities. They are currently “responding with emergency assistance where needed and supporting families who have lost their homes and livelihoods as a result of the conflict.”CNN’s Impact Your World has curated a list of organizations that will provide help in the midst of the Afghanistan crisis. Donations to the program will go towards organizations such as Women for Women International, Women for Afghan Women, and Save the Children.
  • Children Without Borders is a Canadian organization that does the essential work of connecting donors to the most vulnerable families engaged in child labor and/or at risk of becoming one. There are many families who, for whatever reason, have lost their breadwinners to the war. As a result, there isn’t stable income needed to keep their children in school, meaning that burden falls on the child. Your support will allow Children Without Borders to not only continue sponsoring families in need, but provide financial relief and connect them with educational institutions in both Canada and Afghanistan.
  • Miles4Migrants uses donated frequent flyer miles, credit card points and cash to help people impacted by war, persecution or disaster start new beginnings in safe homes. They have been following the situation in Afghanistan, and are committed to getting those who wish to leave out of the country safely.
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