On August 14, 2021, Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban only two weeks after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The sudden takeover of the country has shocked the international community as thousands of Afghans scramble to evacuate and fearing a return to the Taliban’s rule under its strict interpretation of Sharia law more than twenty years ago.
The students of Afghanistan are now at stake, resulting in a number of dilemmas for the locals as well as international students.
The Canadian government evacuated 3,700 people out of Kabul as the last flight took off on Thursday August 26. The majority of the Afghans that are to be resettled in Canada must undergo a specific immigration program that prioritizes those who assisted Canada’s efforts in Afghanistan.
Afghan families started to arrive in Canada on August 4, more than two weeks prior to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.
Many of these Afghans are now in need of a lawyer and finding a place to live, and in terms of the challenges that come with settling in a new country, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Their biggest concern is for those who will not be able to leave the country.
As stated by CBC News, retired major-general David Fraser said that the number of refugees resettled should have been much higher, and blames government bureaucracy for making it more difficult for Afghans to come to Canada. Officials have received 8,000 applications for asylum, of which two-thirds have been processed.
York Federation of Students (YFS) released a statement on Afghanistan this past week, extending their support to the Afghan community. YFS has reaffirmed their commitment to raising awareness of the hardships the people of Afghanistan are currently facing.
“We strongly encourage folks to listen and amplify the voices of the Afghan community and to provide support through genuine solidarity, awareness, and donations.”
The Afghan Students Association at York University (ASA), has also been educating students through their social media accounts. They have provided assistance through job postings, encouraging students to engage in protests for Afghanistan, and offering information sessions for Afghan nationals on immigration and applying for asylum.
Marwa Sakhizada, a fourth-year health informatics student, has a commentary to share regarding the crisis and how it affects both local and international students. “Many of us have extended families back home, who we now worry for. It is extremely hard to do anything, knowing that your uncles, aunts, grandparents are unsafe. There are no words to describe the depths of agony.”
Sakhizada emphasizes the potential regression of Afghan society under the Taliban, especially regarding women’s rights. “We all worry for the future of Afghanistan as the Taliban are known for oppressing women, therefore any gains in education for girls are likely to disappear.”
When asked about how this will impact students, Sakhizada states, “York is filled with international students, and the Afghan population at the university is large. It is important for York to shed light on the situation in Afghanistan and to recognize how it has affected many of York’s own students.”
Sakhizada, who is also the founder of Care2Give, a nonprofit organization which has contributed to relief efforts to support Afghans. “We at Care2give are working hard to support the newly arrived refugees. We Afghans need support from the international community. We need to continue accepting more refugees, we need to continue aiding the ones that are here, and we need funds to support the internally displaced back home in Afghanistan.”
For more ways to donate, reach out to @Care2Give_ on Instagram, contact the non-profit organization at Care2give_@hotmail.com, or call 647-531-8385.