Afghans in Atlanta: Protests, Evacuations, and Uncertainty
Dozens of Afghans have been resettled in the metro Area in the past week and the local community has held two demonstrations.
In the last 10 days, more than two dozen Afghans have arrived in Atlanta, according to two of the four major Atlanta based resettlement agencies - The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta and New American Pathways.
Both organizations say they expect many more to arrive in the coming weeks but it’s hard to know exactly how many because of the chaos of the evacuation process.
Justin Howell, executive director of IRC Atlanta said, “....we received notification on Friday at 5pm that a family would be arriving that evening. This is not what we would normally see as part of the refugee/SIV resettlement process, but that's because the events on the ground have caused quite a bit of disarray. Under more routine/normal circumstances, we would have 6-8 weeks advance notice of an arriving family.”
The Afghans arriving will join a relatively small, yet growing community in the Atlanta area, the majority of whom originally resettled in places like Clarkston, Stone Mountain, and Tucker.
S. Mohamad, his wife, and four children are one of those families. As soon as he heard the news that the Taliban was sweeping into Kabul, Mohammad made a phone call from his home in Gwinnett County to his elder sister and brother in Afghanistan’s capital. His sister, who teaches science to high school aged girls in Kabul, hasn’t left her house. “It’s not safe for women to go out and do their jobs,” he said. “Schools are closed. Everything is closed. Nobody knows what’s going on.” He says his wife hasn’t stopped crying for days.
He’s been anxious, but he says he isn’t surprised by what’s happened. Before immigrating to Atlanta in 2014, Mohamad was a driver and administrative assistant at the U.S. embassy in Kabul. He applied for a special immigrant visa as soon as he was eligible. “I knew this would happen in Afghanistan. I had a good job and a good salary, but I knew this time would come again one day.”
Mohamad joined other Afghan families in protests over the last week in Atlanta. This past Saturday, the community came together at the Woodruff Arts Center for a “Stop Killing Afghans” protest and a week earlier, organizers say at least 600 people gathered for a “Peace and Justice” demonstration outside the CNN Center.
Afghans demonstrate outside the CNN Center on August 15, 2021. Credit: Khushal Gurbaz
Here are some ways to help: Donate to the women, immigrant, and refugee led organization Refugee Women’s Network - the funds will go to basic necessities and social adjustment services. Email IRC-Atlanta to help set up apartments or donate furniture: firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out New American Pathways’ action alert, which details other ways to help, including ways your faith community can partner to welcome newly arrived Afghan families.efforts, and could be evicted any day now.