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A humanitarian and human rights crisis is continuing in Afghanistan as the country continues under Taliban rule. The lives of human rights activists, particularly women’s rights defenders, are at risk. More than 679,000 people have been displaced since President Biden announced in April 2021 plans to withdraw US troops*, some 80 percent of whom are women and children. This brings the total number in need of humanitarian aid to more than 24 million. The crisis is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing drought.

*Number updated weekly.

Our priorities

  • The United States has a moral responsibility to not abandon Afghan women’s rights activists, especially now when their safety is so acutely at stake.
  • The short-term priority is to use whatever means possible to evacuate these at-risk women leaders and activists.
  • The world cannot forget about the women and girls who will inevitably stay behind in Afghanistan. We must mobilize now to meet their humanitarian needs.

Read our one-page fact sheet on immediate actions for the Biden administration and world leaders.

Take Action

If you are in the US, contact your Congressional representative and Senators and urge them to call on President Biden to act now to protect at-risk Afghan women’s rights defenders and provide humanitarian assistance for those left in the country.

Contact your members of Congress

Statements

Afghan Women’s Rights Remain on the Periphery of Talks with Taliban

Over the past six months, the Taliban has targeted and terrorized the women and girls of Afghanistan, swiftly reimposing draconian measures that limit their freedom and undermine their safety.

Women’s Refugee Commission Statement at UN High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan

WRC’s Stephanie Johanssen provided a statement at the United Nations High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.

Women’s Refugee Commission Urges U.S. Not to Abandon Afghan Women Human Rights Defenders

WRC urged President Biden to reconsider his decision to not extend the August 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, highlighting the numbers of at-risk Afghans—including women activists and other human rights defenders who may need to be evacuated.

Women’s Refugee Commission Urges Biden Administration to Immediately Evacuate Afghan Women’s Rights Activists, Families Trapped in Afghanistan

As the Taliban prepared to take control of Afghanistan, the Women’s Refugee Commission called on President Biden to send in any necessary military planes to help evacuate women’s rights activists and their families currently attempting to flee the country and Taliban persecution.

In the News

NPR: 51% – Episode #1703: The Women’s Refugee Commission

March 10, 2022

National Public Radio station WAMC interviewed Gayatri Patel, VP for external relations at WRC, for its 51% radio show on the particular needs of women and girls in conflict and crises, including in Afghanistan and Ukraine.

Stop Betraying the Women of Afghanistan

February 22, 2022

Six months ago, President Joe Biden closed the door on two decades of war in Afghanistan. In the ensuing days, and now months, Afghan women saw the doors of opportunity—hard-fought gains for their rights—slammed in their faces as the Taliban took control of the country.

They Rejected Rescue for a Chance to Get a Fulbright and Change Afghanistan. Now, All That is in Doubt

October 10, 2021

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Maryam Jami’s boss offered to help her flee the country. She said no. As a college-educated woman and human rights advocate, the 23-year-old was…

What Afghanistan’s Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis Means for Women and Girls

August 24, 2021

WRC’s Gayatri Patel talks with rePROs Fight Back about the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the impact on women and girls.

Taliban Says It Will Be More Tolerant Toward Women. Some Fear Otherwise.

August 17, 2021

In The Washington Post, WRC’s Gayatri Patel discusses how thousands of women in Afghanistan who worked to advance women’s rights are at risk.

Gayatri Patel on CNN

Taliban Image Makeover

August 17, 2021

On CNN‘s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, WRC’s Gayatri Patel discussed what is happening to women and girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover.

‘They’re Really Sitting Ducks’: Refugee Advocates Inundated with Pleas for Help from Vulnerable Afghans

August 16, 2021

In an article in USA Today, Gayatri Patel, WRC’s vice president for external relations, describes the urgent need to protect women’s rights defenders in Afghanistan.

Resources

Explainer: Options for Evacuated Afghans

April 8, 2022

This explainer by the National Immigration Forum compares the various pathways currently available for Afghan evacuees to stay in the U.S. and discusses why adjustment legislation remains necessary and urgent.

Afghan Women’s Rights Remain on the Periphery of Talks with Taliban

January 27, 2022

The Women’s Refugee Commission joins three organization calling on the US government and its international partners to prioritize the lives, safety, and fundamental freedoms of Afghan women and girls.

Lifesaving Humanitarian Response for Women and Girls in Afghanistan: An Urgent Call for U.S. Action

December 21, 2021

Violent conflict, a devastating drought, and food insecurity affecting over half the population in Afghanistan are driving one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. This brief outlines recommendations for urgent US action.

Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally Co-Chair Letter on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

August 18, 2021

This letter to the Biden administration from the co-chairs of the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally details the the deep concern from the co-chairs about the growing threat to the rights and safety of women and girls in Afghanistan. Gayatri Patel, the Women’s Refugee Commission’s vice president for external relations, is a co-chair of the coalition and one of the co-signers of the letter.

Menendez, Shaheen Lead Senate Colleagues in Bipartisan Letter Urging Biden Admin to Protect Afghan Women Leaders in Wake of Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

August 16, 2021

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) were joined by 44 of their Senate colleagues in urging the Biden administration to take swift, robust action to protect and support Afghan women leaders facing unparalleled danger following the Taliban’s violent sweep across Afghanistan and seizure of Kabul.

My Taliban Nightmare Came True. I Left, But My Sister Couldn’t

August 16, 2021

Op-ed in the Washington Post by Nasrin Nawa, a multimedia journalist formerly residing and working in Kabul. (Note: this is behind a paywall.)