Media Contact: Joanna Kuebler 646-255-5586
New York, NY – As the Taliban prepares to take control of Afghanistan, the Women’s Refugee Commission called on President Biden this morning 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.
Many of the women are part of the estimated 18,000 Afghans who helped the U.S. government or were part of U.S. government-backed programs, and who likely will be targets of the Taliban. The Biden administration recently created a special visa designation – P2 – for U.S.-affiliated Afghan nationals to help with resettlement and has already begun relocating some Afghan nationals via its Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. Given the Taliban’s brutal views on women’s rights, women’s rights activists and other human rights defenders fear imminently being targeted for persecution or execution under Taliban rule if they are unable to flee.
“Thousands of women put their lives at risk over the last two decades to advance the rights of women and girls across Afghanistan, many of whom helped the U.S. mission,” said Gayatri Patel, vice president for external relations at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “The Biden administration has a moral obligation to ensure they are evacuated and safely resettled. We cannot leave these women and their families stranded. They must be evacuated on par with U.S. embassy personnel.”
In addition to calling on the Biden administration to immediately evacuate those urgently in need of escape, WRC expressed deep concern for women and girls throughout the country. Recent media reports detail targeted attacks on women and girls in areas already captured by the Taliban, including being forced to marry Taliban fighters, public floggings, and being restricted to their homes. In areas now under Taliban control, villages have been burned down, civilians killed, and girls’ schools bombed or shuttered. With border crossings controlled by Taliban forces, vulnerable women and their families have limited options for seeking safety, and the numbers of internally displaced people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance have already grown to more than 414,000 since President Biden announced in April plans to withdraw U.S. troops.
“We are horrified by what lies ahead for millions of Afghan women and girls,” said Patel. “We all remember the abhorrent treatment they received under Taliban rule in the past and we have no reason to believe this time will be significantly better. We call on global leaders to work together immediately to address this growing humanitarian nightmare.”
Specifically, WRC calls on the U.S. government and UN Member States to:
- Provide immediate and urgent evacuation and protection of civilians in line with international humanitarian law and UN Security Council resolutions on the protection of civilians and on women, peace, and security.
- Expedite humanitarian visas and refrain from capping or placing quotas on Afghan refugees, including SIV and other US visa processes.
- Provide safe refuge to civilians fleeing their homes, especially for neighboring countries.
- Mobilize urgent humanitarian assistance and ensure humanitarian access to refugees and those internally displaced within Afghanistan.
- Support and fund the work of Afghan women human rights defenders and peacebuilders, including through mechanisms such as the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund.
- Hold the Taliban accountable for violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, including gender-based violence.
- Hold the Taliban accountable for ensuring continued access to education for women and girls.
Read how you can help with the Afghanistan crisis and how the situation is affecting refugees, especially women and girls.