UPDATE, 16th September:
We are overwhelmed with the generous donations that we have raised so far and thank everyone who has donated and sent kind messages. We are looking to expand the charity's services to meet the needs of the newly arrived Afghan community in the coming months and years and so have increased our target. Any money that is raised will go directly towards projects which provide support and integration services for newly arrived Afghans in the UK, or which continue our resettlement advocacy for vulnerable people in Afghanistan. If you would like to donate to our unrestricted funds, please visit our website and go to the 'donate' button.
Our Amazon wishlist, where you can buy real items and gift cards for new Afghan refugees, is still in operation. In the last few weeks, we have increasingly been working in partnership with humanitarian organisation to distribute these items, along with other donations, to hotels around London (see this Guardian article for more details). For inquiries about making physical donations please email [email protected] or check our social media pages to see what we need. Please note we are only accepting donations of new/ unused items, with a few exceptions.
While our office is no longer inundated with the arrivals of those fearful about friends and relatives in Afghanistan to the same level as in August, our advocacy work for the resettlement and safety of Afghans who are eligible for or already possess resettlement visas is ongoing. When the resettlement scheme opens we will almost certainly see a significant increase in demand for this service, which we hope to be able to meet with your support.
'This place has become the focal point for London's Afghan community. For days, hundreds have turned up here getting news from relatives in Afghanistan, queueing to do their best to get them out' - Carl Mercer, reporting for BBC London News (26th August)
With the Taliban having swept to power once again in Afghanistan after 20 years, many Afghans are attempting to flee for their lives. Those who have become human rights defenders, charity workers and politicians know that they and their families face certain violent persecution under Taliban rule. While the UK media has frequently raised the possibility that the Taliban have ‘changed’, the Afghan people know that they have only become more strategically-minded, waiting for the full withdrawal of foreign troops before carrying out atrocities on those they perceive to have betrayed them. It is already being reported that the Taliban is carrying out a systematic programme of identification and registration of the population as a tool of repression and persecution of its targets. This makes the resettlement of refugees to the UK an urgent matter of life or death.
ACAA Resettlement work
The small number of ACAA staff and many many volunteers have been working tirelessly and on an unprecedented scale to organise resettlement for Afghans trying to reach the UK. As reported by Sky News, people have arrived from across the country to seek resettlement for their loved ones stuck in Afghanistan. Despite their hard work, however, the charity is still overwhelmed by the number of cases that need to be addressed, with crowds of people queueing outside from as early as 6am. In order to sustain this work the ACAA needs extra funding for food and refreshments for its volunteers as they work at the office round the clock, as well as the equipment needed to carry out the work. The money raised could also fund further staff salaries to meet the number of people urgently trying to reach safety.
The vital work of the ACAA at this time in pursuing resettlement cases and as a focal point for the Afghan community has been highlighted in recent days by Sky News, BBC Breakfast (see above) and BBC London News, among many others. The ACAA has been supporting the Afghan diaspora in the UK and championing human rights in Afghanistan for 20 years. They need your help now more than ever to meet the scale of this crisis.
Providing humanitarian assistance
Under the UK resettlement programme for those who assisted the British army, many Afghan refugees have already arrived in the UK. In the chaos of recent weeks they have left often with the bare minimum of personal possessions and are lacking basic needs such as food, clothing and other essential supplies. It is uncertain whether the banking system in Afghanistan will remain functional under the Taliban and people may lose everything.
About the ACAA
The Afghanistan and Central Asian Association was founded by Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi, who fled Afghanistan in 1999 and came to the UK seeking asylum with his family. Since it was founded in 2001 the ACAA’s mission has been to reduce the isolation felt by the refugee community and to promote and secure human rights in Afghanistan itself. Its key services are its ESOL for integration classes, its legal advice clinic and its women’s project which promotes women’s rights and a safe space for women refugees. In addition to this, the ACAA is a community centre, through which Afghans living in London are able to make connections, celebrate their culture and feel a sense of belonging. In 2018 the ACAA was awarded the Queens Award for its services to the community. The ACAA has recently been operating grassroots human rights and legal advice centres run by Afghans. This work has attempted to promote Afghan empowerment and a sustainable charitable sector in the country in the context of the dominance of large foreign NGOs.