HIAS Statement on Afghanistan Crisis

The unfolding situation in Afghanistan is devastating. We’re watching in real time as a humanitarian crisis engulfs the country, and desperation and panic strike untold numbers of Afghans whose safety is now at extreme risk.

Because of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, few options are available for those at risk of violent retaliation. Borders to neighboring countries are officially closed, and in-country refugee processing is not a possibility. HIAS is therefore pressing for large scale humanitarian evacuations for those whose lives are in danger. This includes not just Afghans who were affiliated with the U.S. mission, but also human rights activists (especially women and girls), journalists, and religious minorities.

“The Refugee Act of 1980 gives the president tools to plan for and respond to refugee emergencies,” said Mark Hetfield, HIAS’ President and CEO. “The tragedy is the United States had 20 years to plan for what we are witnessing in Afghanistan, but failed to do so. While we welcome President Biden’s stated plans to evacuate special immigrant visa applicants from Afghanistan, thousands of them have been endlessly stuck inside the U.S. government’s bureaucratic process. We also appreciate President Biden’s announcement on additional access to the U.S. resettlement program, but we hope that the U.S. will evacuate these refugee applicants, as well, rather than forcing them to cross Taliban-controlled borders.”

HIAS is calling on the Biden administration to get Afghans safely to the U.S. or willing third countries for expedited processing. Through our network of affiliates, HIAS will help to ensure that newly arriving Afghans are welcomed and able to access opportunities to start their lives in safety in their new American communities.


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