77 Afghans Flee the Taliban with Help from Michigan State University
When the United States announced that it was making its final withdrawal of troops out of Afghanistan, fear and chaos took over the region. Citizens and troops needed to be evacuated as soon as possible. That's where Michigan State University stepped in to help.
According to Bridge Michigan, it's thanks to GRAIN (MSU's Gran Research and Development project), a small group of food researchers at Michigan State University that 77 Afghans were able to flee the Taliban just in time "before the last U.S. troops left" -- an unheard-of feat that was "unmatched by any other U.S. university that ran programs in Afghanistan" according to those with knowledge of the evacuation effort.
Where MSU's Involvement Began
It all started back in July of this year when one researcher, Sara Qaderi, received a cryptic note with a threat that read, "We know that you're working for USAID. You will pay the cost of that, and we will kill you." At the time, President Biden maintained that the Taliban wouldn't take over Afghanistan. But on August 15th, they did.
GRAIN's Program Director, Kurt Richter believed that they had plenty of time to secure their people's safety. But what they thought had been a months-long timeline had now turned into a days-long one. That's when a Michigan United States Representative stepped in to help.
United States Representative Elissa Slotkin Steps Up to Help
After receiving pleas of "help from more than 1,000 people," Michigan Representative Elissa Slotkin and her team went to work with MSU GRAIN members to come together and do as much as they could for the people in need. It took over two weeks, with many restless nights, but Slotkin helped clear the path for the GRAIN team to be evacuated to safety.
What's Going On Now
The future of the GRAIN evacuees and their families remains uncertain for the moment. CBS News reports that approximately "37,000 Afghans are expected to be resettled in communities across the [United States] in the coming weeks." If you would like to help Afghan refugees, NPR has put together some ways you can do that:
- Help resettle refugees: You can help with picking people up at the airport, housing them, helping with meals, and more. Check out the standby list here, and you can donate here.
- Donate funds: You can help by donating funds to Women for Afghan Women, International Refugee Assistance Project, or Afghan Journalists Safety Committee.
- Email the White House: You can email the International Rescue Committee and urge them and the Biden administration to take action to "ensure vulnerable Afghans have pathways to safety."