How You Can Help Afghan Refugees
The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is heartbreaking to witness. As people of faith, we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. Plymouth’s mission to “practice radical love everywhere and always” encourages us to take action.
You may be wondering what you can do to help in the face of this crisis. To assist you, we have put together a list of resources and action steps.
(Update!) Local Assistance
The U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI)* is the refugee resettlement agency Plymouth is partnering with to co-sponsor a refugee family this year.
USCRI Des Moines welcomed a family from Kabul recently. They have staff on the ground in Fort Lee, Virginia, helping process Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who served alongside the U.S. military in Afghanistan. They are preparing to welcome more of these individuals to Central Iowa, providing them with the housing, education, and employment opportunities necessary to rebuild lives and restore hope.
Here are tangible ways you can help these local resettlement efforts:
Make a financial contribution to USCRI Des Moines to help provide families with critical resettlement services and resources.
Donate new or gently used household items to USCRI Des Moines. Currently, their greatest needs are for the following items:
- floor lamps
- large pots and pans
- cutting boards
- twin- and full-size comforters and sheets
- knife sets
- other miscellaneous kitchen and cleaning supplies
Please note: they do not have space to store large upholstered items; however, they may be able to use furniture like dining sets, dressers, and coffee tables. To schedule a time to drop off donations, please email Liz Vernon.
Provide housing to newly arrived families. Landlords and property managers can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Add your voice to the United Church of Christ’s advocacy efforts on this issue.
- Urge Congress and the Administration to expedite refugee protections for Afghans in peril.
- Add your name in support of the UCC Officers statement and affirm together: “We must not turn our back on Afghanistan now or in the years to come…”
Watching the images from Haiti and Afghanistan in the past week, we are confronted by and reminded of the human faces inside large-scale tragedies — each person with their own history, a home and family, dreams and worries, joys and sorrows. As the Plymouth Welcomes a Refugee Family project awaits the news of who our refugee family will be, we are also holding space for sorrow and lament. Please join us in praying for refugees, asylum seekers, and all those forced to flee their homes in fear. You can find a prayer here.
Worldwide, 82.4 million people have been forcibly displaced. As of 2020, that means one in every 95 people on earth has fled their home. In Afghanistan alone this year, over half a million people have been displaced since the beginning of 2021, and 80% of those forced to flee are women and children. Acute humanitarian needs are now spiraling. (Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
The problem is vast. Where can you start to learn more? Here are a couple recommendations:
- Not a Numbers Game: Human Faces of the Crisis in Afghanistan | Good explanation of the current crisis (with personal examples) from the refugee resettlement agency with whom Plymouth is partnering.
- The Plymouth Welcomes a Refugee Family project | In the “Want to Learn More about Refugees” section at the bottom of the page, you’ll find helpful facts and links to guide you on your journey. (Watch for more installments in the coming weeks, including resources on how to talk to children and youth about refugee issues.)
*The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization and one of nine refugee resettlement agencies approved by the U.S. federal government. They have eight field offices in North America, including one in Des Moines.