Thousands of Afghans are scrambling to leave their country with many fleeing to the United States — some to Maryland — after the Taliban took over amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The Taliban’s siege and rapid takeover of Afghanistan’s government came in the weeks before the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline for U.S. troops.
Now, the United States is preparing to receive as many as 22,000 refugees at such army bases as Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas, according to Garry Reid director of the Department of Defense’s Afghanistan Crisis Action Group.
Maryland is expecting at least 180 Afghan refugees in the coming weeks as part of Operation Allies Refuge, a program that provides Special Immigrant Visas to people in Afghanistan who worked with the United States in fields such as translation, security and transportation, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a news release.
Maryland ranks fourth in the country for arrivals of refugees with Special Immigrant Visas, Hogan’s news release said.
Here are some ways you can support Afghan refugees in the Maryland, D.C. and Virginia area:
Donate to or sponsor a family through Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area
Serving the region, Lutheran Social Services has been working to secure housing and community resources, including transportation and health services for Afghan refugees since they began arriving at Fort Lee at the end of July, according to the organization’s website.
The organization has three resettlement sites, located in Hyattsville and Virginia’s Fairfax and Dale City.
Lutheran Social Services said in a news release that it expects the majority of refugees to resettle in the D.C. metro area, and is in need of volunteers throughout the region as well as “Good Neighbor Sponsors” who can sign on to support families for anywhere from three months to a year.
Community members also can donate furniture, buy in-demand goods off the program’s Amazon wish list, or donate directly to their efforts.
You can find more information at lssnca.org
Donate to or volunteer with the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore
Involved in supporting displaced Afghans since 1988, the International Rescue Committee is a national organization that focuses on providing water, food and monetary aid to displaced people in areas such as Kabul, as well as helping refugees settle into communities in the U.S.
The International Rescue Committee’s office in Baltimore helps provide housing, health services and job opportunities to people who are resettling in Baltimore.
The Baltimore office also is looking for volunteers in Baltimore to work as success coaches for young refugees as well as people to set up apartments for recently displaced people.
Information on donating to the committee’s efforts in Afghanistan is available at help.rescue.org/donate/afghanistan
Volunteer with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
The national organization Lutheran Immigrant Refugee Service, a partner of Lutheran Social Services, is looking for volunteers to work directly with recent Afghan refugees.
Volunteers are needed throughout Maryland, Virginia and D.C. for everything from picking up refugees from the airport, to setting up apartments for families and providing mentorship or meal assistance.
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up here.
You also can donate to the organization’s fund which provides food, clothing and housing to refugees in the “5-7 day gap” that the organization says often exists between a refugee’s arrival in the U.S. and their ability to get connected with U.S. resettlement program services. Every dollar donated up to $10,000 to support Afghan refugees is matched.
More information is available at lirs.org.
Give household supplies, food to the Maryland Muslims Welcome Afghan Refugees drive
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslim Family Center, Islamic Society of Baltimore and Dar-Al Taqwa Islamic Center have partnered together to collect toiletries, non-perishable foods and household supplies for Afghan refugees.
The organizations are also looking for laptops and phones, new bedding, baby supplies, prayer rugs and cleaning supplies.
Donations are being collected through Sept. 5 at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, the CAIR office in Baltimore, Dar-Al Taqwa Islamic Center in Ellicott Elicott City and the Muslim Family Center in Columbia.
Information on what donations will be accepted and when to drop off drop-off supplies is available here.
Donate to the Church World Service in D.C.
Staff with the Church World Service, based in Washington, Washington D.C., are currently on the ground at Fort Lee helping process and resettle refugees throughout Virginia and the United States.
The organization has helped resettle 7,293 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders since 2009, according to Christopher Plummer, director of media Director of Media for the organization.
You can donate to Church World service or sponsor a family that is resettling in the United States.
More information is available at cwsglobal.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this article..