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Lots of people have told me they are horrified about what’s happening in Afghanistan but feel helpless. Here are five simple but powerful things you can do:

1. Volunteer some time with the Afghanistan & Central Asian Association, founded in London by Afghan refugees. They need volunteers to help with English language teaching, supplementary school classes, mentoring, and a variety of other activities to help refugees integrate in the UK.

2. Donate your unused air miles, travel vouchers, and Amex points to Miles4Migrants. They will use them to purchase tickets for refugees who have the visas or other documentation required to leave, but can’t afford the flights.

3. Write to your MP (even if you think they don’t care). Ask them to expand the list of refugees eligible for resettlement in the UK beyond the military interpreters, and to ensure that the government follows through on promises with visas, flights, and financial support. Lobby for the right to remain. Canada has agreed to take 20,000 people; Germany will take 10,000; and three European countries which REALLY can’t afford it — Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia — are also opening their doors to refugees. What will the UK do?

4. If you can afford it, donate to some money to one of the incredible organisations on the front line. I first went to Afghanistan in 2010 with Afghanaid, the only foreign NGO which never left during the civil war. They’re still there, still working, and I’ve seen firsthand the life-changing work they do in rural communities. Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF), The HALO Trust, International Committee of the Red Cross and others are also doing critical work. 

5. The refugee crisis is only just beginning. Be an advocate in your community for refugees, creating a safe, welcoming space for people to recover and make new lives. This means challenging your friends, family, and colleagues when they parrot anti-refugee rhetoric; thinking critically about the newspapers you buy, the social media posts you like and share, and the politicians you vote for; and making an effort to learn about Afghan culture and engage with Afghans in the UK. Oh, and support the RNLI as they’re the ones who will be picking up refugees when they’re forced to cross the Channel in unfit boats as there’s no safe, legal route to get here. 

Wherever we come from, whatever has led us here, we are all part of one community.

Note: Many thanks to Sophie for her kind permission in allowing OutNewsGlobal to reproduce this article which first appeared in Sophie’s Facebook feed.

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Sophie Ibbotson

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