The Boatman and the Humanitarian Crisis to Save Afghan Refugees

Updated: September 12, 2021

(The Lord your God) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19 NIV

Introducing the Digital Dunkirk Boatman

Recently, I met a traveler known as the Boatman (identity reserved to protect the mission) who was in active military service. When I met him, I was immediately impressed with his sense of poise and charisma. He was confident but not cocky. He was bold and secure with boundaries to protect his values. He kept his actions and intent pure. He was highly skilled: the kind of man who could read a room and know exactly how best to serve it. It was impressive how intuitive, wise, giving, and kind he was to strangers much less people he knew and loved. We sat over dinner conversing under the stars on a warm summer night in Florida.

When the Afghan refugee crisis 2021 happened, and I heard he was directly involved; I knew I wanted to help. This is more than his story; it is the story of the thousands of service men and women and innocent civilians that are or will be publicly executed if we don’t take action NOW.

The Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

Since the War on Terror began under the Bush Administration in September 2001, American troops have occupied the Middle East in effort to stop terrorist acts and create a hostile environment for them in the areas where they were breeding. (For more on this history, check out this detailed article by Cato Institute.) 

This year, the Biden Administration determined that it was going to pull all US troops and support out of Afghanistan by 9-11-21. They thought they had enough steady support to keep Kabul as a safe port of entry, but they did not. As soon as the troops were gone, the Taliban reentered and took control of Kabul. When Kabul fell, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and the Taliban took over the government. According to this article from CNBC, the Taliban regime will allow foreign (US and UK) citizens to leave freely through August 31, 2021, but all Afghan nationals will be stopped at the gates. Furthermore, they say they will not allow any evacuations past the 31st, and any attempt to do so will face severe “consequences”. 

The Taliban wants to shift the narrative that US evacuation is a gift to Afghanistan. An article published by Aljazeera yesterday claims that the Taliban today is a powerful leadership that can negotiate with the skill of western leaders, but they were denied their rightful reign of power by US occupation. They want us to believe all of Afghanistan is excited to see the “new Taliban” come into power. If that were truly the case, why are there so many refugees stuffing themselves into cargo planes or strapping themselves onto the landing gear and risking falling from the sky versus staying behind in the “new Taliban”? 

Afghan citizens want to leave the country because they know they will be killed if they stay. This is especially true if they offered any support to US troops during their occupation. You can hear some of their stories first-hand in this article from the New York Times

With boots on the ground, here is what Boatman shared with me:

(Anyone left behind will) sadly have to stay and fight and hope they can defend their families from the atrocities the Taliban will unleash when we leave. Worst case scenario, the internet will be shut down, and they will begin murdering the innocent. These (people) are my family. I know their names, faces, and birthdays, and I will memorialize every one of them that doesn’t make it home because they are still my family. My children and grandchildren will know their names; they will not be stricken from the Earth like refuse. There are thousands of people like me living this nightmare right now as are the 6,000 service members having to bear witness to this human suffering because of the orders dictated to them by their Commander-in-Chief. We are already psychological casualties of this obscenity, but everyone can still stop this if they will email and call (their government representatives) until this is corrected.

How to Help Afghan Refugees

Because of the immediate need to get these people to safety, a grassroots effort is organizing to provide aid. Here are the top three ways you can help save Afghan Refugees today!

  1. Contact your representatives to urge the Biden Administration to protect Afghan allies.
  2. Volunteer your time, talent, and resources to organizations like Society76 to help those in need including refugee centers. As these families come out, they are needing housing for groups as large as 15-24 family members.
  3. Contribute financially to GoFundMe’s like Helping Afghans in Crisis and Flyaway that are helping to pay for transportation and housing to get refugees to safety.

How the Evacuation Efforts Continue Post Cutoff

In a recent conversation with The Boatman, I was updated on what happened with the evacuation process and, specifically, the cutoff period of the 31st. Here is what he shared.

Though the cutoff to leave Afghanistan was on August 31, 2021, the majority of US planes left on the 30th. Twenty-four hours were left on the clock, and the American government did nothing to help the crisis during that time.

Entire groups of people were denied exit because of paperwork. Families we promised citizenship in exchange for helping us were trying to leave with their families (parents, siblings, and children). If anyone in that group didn’t have a passport with a VISA stamp already on it or other acceptable documentation, they were denied asylum or exit from Afghanistan. In most cases, the people denied were children of our allies. The impossible choice was this: leave your children and come with us or stay and defend yourselves because we can’t help you here.

Press releases from the White House will never tell the truth on this, but these are the words from boots on the ground that had to carry out the orders.

At the time of this writing, US citizens are still able to evacuate with proper documentation, but it is much harder for Afghan allies. Neighboring countries are now refusing to help because of fear of Taliban retaliation. Nevertheless, we have not given up our effort to get every trapped Afghan ally to safety.

Afghan refugees stuck in Afghanistan now are living as slaves did along the underground railroad. Generosity of strangers and the protection of God is all they have right now.

When and if they get out, the next biggest need is housing. Afghan families are large and do life together. They will need housing near each other that can accommodate 15-25 people. Whether this is a temporary situation of people opening a room in their homes or a more permanent solution of offering places to rent, the refugees are prepared to be respectful and responsible tenants in their new host countries.

Another need they have is learning the English language. While many local community colleges offer this service for free in the United States, refugees may not be able to transport themselves to the location and/or may be afraid of how others perceive them.

If this cause moves your heart, prayerfully consider how you can be a help to these people. No one person can solve ever problem that exists here, but if you do what God leads you to do without fear, you bless yourself and others in the process. Being the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world is a blessing and a calling we all have to fulfill.