Since the devastating fall of Kabul, Afghanistan, to the Taliban, thousands are fleeing to Qatar seeking safety. Latter-day Saint Charities is responding to a crucial need to relieve the suffering of Afghan refugees. Many are arriving with only the clothes on their backs.
Through the support of our generous donors, Latter-day Saint Charities has recently provided shoes, hygiene supplies, small toys, and infant care items like diapers and wipes to families and individuals fleeing Afghanistan.
The rapid response was made possible by local Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith in the region. They gathered lifesaving supplies by contacting stores, many of which aided by offering discounts. Through much effort and exertion, volunteers worked tirelessly over a matter of days to fill the equivalent of 90 passenger vans with supplies to be delivered to the arriving refugees.
"We saved lives and bridged the gap for the first three days for thousands of Afghan refugees," local Latter-day Saint leader Jonathan Dawson reported in a recent Middle East Church Newsroom article. "Without this, I shudder to think what might have happened. The donations from Latter-day Saint Charities were heaven sent."
Elder Anthony D. Perkins, President of the Church's Middle East/Africa North Area, said, "It is inspiring to witness Latter-day Saints and our friends reaching out to help immediately and tirelessly. The Church of Jesus Christ has a long history of aiding refugees, and this will continue to be a priority. Our concern is for all who suffer. We anticipate ongoing needs and are prepared to respond as appropriate."
According to the Middle East Church Newsroom report, all known members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were deployed or working in Afghanistan are out of the country and accounted for.
In the coming weeks, Latter-day Saint Charities is preparing to deploy more emergency aid. Additional information will be released to the public as it becomes available.
Many have been reaching out in support and with willingness to assist Afghan refugees. Help for those resettling in the coming weeks and months is crucial. Here are some ways you can aid refugees in your local community:
- Find local service and in-kind donation opportunities: Visit JustServe.org for opportunities to serve those in your area who are resettling.
- Contact a local resettlement agency or other refugee services: Reach out to a local resettlement agency, refugee service provider, or school to directly offer assistance. Ask these agencies if they need assistance with any of the following:
- Housing: Help resettlement agencies locate housing options for arriving refugees.
- Furniture and Household Items: Items such as bed frames, mattresses (new only), sofas, dining tables, chairs, kitchenware, blenders, child car seats (new only), and large appliances like ovens, refrigerators, and washers/dryers greatly contribute to families' ability to make their new spaces feel like home. However, these items can be prohibitively expensive for families to buy with their limited resettlement funds. If possible, you can assist by donating items on this list.
- Digital Access Products and Services: Access to phones, laptops, computers, tablets, and other devices, as well as the internet, is essential for arriving refugees so they can attend school, apply for jobs, access local services, and be connected to their new communities.
- Hygiene Items: Hygiene and personal items will help arriving refugees feel comfortable and confident. Requested items include feminine hygiene supplies, soap, shampoo, conditioner, razors, hairbrushes, and deodorant.
- School Supplies: As children enroll in school, they will need supplies to support their education, including backpacks, lunch boxes, notebooks, headphones, and art supplies.
- Transportation: In-kind donations of metro/bus passes and rideshare (Uber, Lyft) credits would help families receive essential services, apply for jobs, enroll their children in school, and go to the grocery store.
- Employment: In their home country, many refugees worked as skilled professionals in various fields and continue to have the capacity to serve in a familiar industry. Refugees and asylees have permission to live and work in the United States and can work any job they are qualified for. Their status as a refugee or asylee does not prevent them from obtaining employment.