There are few words that can bring comfort to the Afghan people. Decades of crippling conflict, violence, international interference, and instability can’t easily be solved by statements of support or catchy hashtags. Quite simply, the Afghan people need a break. They need humanity-led action.
And with over 123,000 civilians now spread across the world with countless more people waiting for an opportunity to escape, we have a collective opportunity to learn from past mistakes and provide safe and integrated homes for people who have experienced more than many of us will experience in our lifetimes. There’s an old saying – ‘all for but a set of circumstances,’ which put simply translates as – it could have been you – and if it were, how would you want the world to respond?
At Eurodiaconia, we’re inspired by our members who have been consistently at the front of many of our recent crises. Indeed, over the past 18-months, our members have been leading Europe’s response to COVID-19. Whether through providing business-as-usual services, designing new social service and healthcare initiatives to meet demand, or fighting to prevent already vulnerable groups from falling further behind – our members have proven time and time again that there is no greater action than humanity-led action.
As the situation in Afghanistan evolves and the full extent of this humanitarian emergency presents itself, our members will respond in the same way. Already we’re collecting stories of action.
Our Member, Diakonie Austria has launched their advocacy efforts to campaign for humanitarian aid programs – especially those that safeguard the rights, freedoms, and lives of Afghan women. Director, Maria Moser stated:
“Let’s now talk about women-specific reasons for asylum, about protecting the lives of women. Humanitarian visas and corridors are urgently needed for women who have stood out in public, who have defended themselves against forced marriage, for women’s rights activists…journalists!”
Our Members have also started to highlight some of the more practical ways that we can assist those who have managed to flee – through providing safe homes and community spaces that foster integration.
Indeed, Diakonie Deutschland has already begun to campaign on the dangers of refusing to welcome refugees. Their President, Ulrich Lilie, has called upon the EU to introduce a humanitarian right of residence regardless of a case-by-case assessment.
Additionally, our Member – Kerk in Actie is actively encouraging their communities to provide temporary shelters for Afghan refugees and providing extra manpower to local emergency shelters through delivering language lessons, warm meals, and promoting cultural inclusion.
In Italy, Diaconia Valdese has welcomed 13 Afghan refugees to the Pinerolo area in Italy and Waldensian Diaconia has provided shelter for families and individuals being hosted at the Red Cross centre in Settimo, Torinese.
Whether it’s providing accommodation, vocational training, language skills, or group activities – at the heart of our response must be an pro-migrant and integrated response that recognises the inherent humanity in each one of us.