It has been a terribly long and hard two months since we last sent an update. Our days have been consumed with trying to help Afghans figure out their logistical and legal options for evacuation and resettling. While good news often feels elusive, there are some bright spots!
Basir, CSFilm’s coordinator, and family of four have received asylum in Canada via a Canadian NGO that he worked for. They, like all the rest, have left Afghanistan with nothing, and now have their whole lives to rebuild.
Filmmaker Aqeela and her three sons were evacuated by the French government before the fall of Kabul. Michael is talking with her today about the next steps in her asylum process. She has seven family members that were left behind for whom we are still working every evacuation option.
Video editor Hamid and his family of five were evacuated by the BBC, his current employer, to the UK, where he plans to stay. His brother Ayat, another prominent minority journalist in Afghanistan, fled with his family of five into Iran. His wife is due in two months, their visas are expiring, and they don’t know what to do. We are looking into options for asylum in Mexico or Brazil.
Also in Iran, a place that is vicious toward Afghans, is filmmaker Qasem, with his 6-year-old daughter and mother. He is in a desperate situation except that last week he got invited to be on the jury of the Asian Film Festival in Vesoul France. Like so many Universities and cultural organizations around the world, Vesoul is using their influence to prioritize Afghans. We just submitted all the paperwork to try and convince the French Embassy to give visas to Qasem and family.
Engineer Hayatullah, who saved Michael from possible kidnapping during his time in Afghanistan, was evacuated with five family members to Spain. His son had worked briefly as an interpreter for Spanish forces. They still have the desire to be given asylum in the US, which we are working on.
CSFilm helped evacuate filmmakers, Reza and his family of six, Wahid and his family of six, editors Rahmat and his wife and coordinator Jafar and his wife to Poland and Italy. All but Jafar in Italy moved to Germany where they requested temporary refuge while waiting to see if the US government will grant them asylum based on my Referrals. This will be a one-to-two-year process.
This week, a German evacuation team, with the help of editor Jawad (now living in Germany), got filmmaker Hasib, his wife and mother overland into Pakistan. They will soon get moved to Germany where they want to settle permanently.
A human rights activist, Abbas, and his family of seven, are the only family that we have been able to get evacuated with the help of Americans – and without the help of the US government. One must ask what the US government has been doing since August 31st?
Still in Afghanistan are eight families of filmmakers, journalists, artists, musicians, and human rights workers, that either worked for or assisted CSFilm or are family of those that did. Their lives are wracked with anxiety as they move between the homes of family and friends in the hope of not being trapped by the Taliban.
One filmmaker and journalist, Majid, has been caught by the Taliban. As a fellow Pashtu he was not killed for having worked with Westerners and written against the Taliban. He and his family were imprisoned until local elders negotiated his release. He is now in “village confinement” where he is forced to work for the mullah and to attend mosque five times a day.
Altogether it is 21 families and 109 people that need our help with various aspects of their logistical, legal, and financial evacuation and resettlement. Thanks to your amazing generosity over the last months, we have been able to provide tens-of-thousands-of-dollars in urgent funds and to focus all our effort on this day in day out work.
As we head toward the end of the year, anything you can do to continue to support CSFilm’s Fund for Afghan Evacuation and Resettlement is very much needed and appreciated.
Thank you and best wishes for the holidays.