Former Kabul embassy workers are helping Afghan refugees in Philadelphia waiting for their wives and children


The urgent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is hopeless for thousands of Americans and Afghan people who have helped the U.S. still stuck in the country, as it hopes to be allowed to evacuate by the Taliban. Created a situation.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Afghans volunteer to join the Immigration Bureau to help accept refugees on their first flight from Afghanistan while praying for their families to arrive safely.

Mohammad Sadeed is the Office Manager of HIAS Pennsylvania, a resettlement and immigration legal services agency for refugees, one of the non-profit organizations that supports resettlement of Afghan refugees in Philadelphia.

For Sadeed, this resettlement program is personal. His wife and five children aged four and a half to thirteen visited relatives in Afghanistan a month ago when the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15.

“I was worried about my child and wife, and I couldn’t even sleep for a whole week,” Sadeed told The Epoch Times.

Previously, Sadeed worked for five years as a supervisor at the US Embassy in Kabul. As a result of this diplomatic activity, he and his family emigrated to the United States in 2019 and settled in Philadelphia. They did so primarily for the education of their children.

When the President of Afghanistan gave power to the Taliban and fled Kabul, many people, including Sadido’s wife and children, went to the airport to leave the country. However, there was violence and some children were shot dead, Sadeed said, adding that his children had never witnessed such a thing.

“I couldn’t imagine how they could handle it alone when I wasn’t there. I was always praying for their safety,” he said.

His family finally boarded an evacuation plane to Germany shortly before the suicide bombing at Kabul International Airport on August 26. Sadeed said he was very relieved now, although he doesn’t know when he will meet his family.

The last time he talked to them was a minute when they were in Germany. Because there wasn’t Wi-Fi waiting in line for many people to use the phone. The call was long enough to let him know they were safe, but I didn’t know where the next stop would be.

Sadeed is fortunate that his family has safely left Afghanistan. He said all he could do now was help other refugee families who had already arrived in Philadelphia. He accepted an Afghan family member and registered as a volunteer to pick up people at the airport. He said he knew about 700 Afghans living in Philadelphia and called on them to volunteer to greet people at the airport.

Philadelphia city officials have promised to create a “safe haven” for hundreds or thousands of refugees arriving in the coming weeks. The airport is equipped with a clinic, COVID-19 testing and vaccination site, groceries and children’s toys.

The first plane of Afghan refugees arrived at Philadelphia International Airport on August 28th. It is the second airport in the country appointed by the White House and accepts Afghan allies fleeing the Taliban. New jersey.

The plane was expected to arrive around 1 am, Sadeed said. He hadn’t slept for a week, but felt compelled to go to help. He felt that someone should be there to take care of his non-English-speaking family.

“This is the time when I have to help the people of Afghanistan. This is the time when we need to help each other,” he said. “Most people are afraid of another civil war. They don’t know what will happen next. It’s a chaotic situation. All we want is to live in peace.”

Sadeed said simple steps for agencies involved in the evacuation of Afghan refugees to process a special immigrant visa (SIV), a special status created by the U.S. government for Afghan people who supported the U.S. military. He said he wanted to provide it.

Need for temporary housing

HIAS PA has helped Philadelphia resettle dozens of Afghan refugees over the past few weeks. Secretary-General Katherine Miller Wilson said the biggest challenge was finding a home for them.

“Due to the crisis, we are only a few hours notified before people arrive at the airport. So obviously it’s not enough time to find a home. So the first challenge is , Finding temporary housing so that you can find permanent housing, “Miller Wilson told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
HIASPA Executive Director Cathryn Miller-Wilson. (Yurisan / The Epoch Times)

She said Airbnb had arranged to accommodate 20,000 Afghan refugees worldwide with the help of private donors.

Miller-Wilson said he is asking the Philadelphia hotel industry to offer discounted hotel rooms as well. As apartment rents skyrocketed during the pandemic, HIAS PA is meeting with the landlord to discuss refugee rent reductions.

“But I don’t know how successful it will be, so I can find about it, what our family does, and a high-paying job that they can buy a home for. I’m very nervous about it, “she said.

Miller-Wilson explained that the federal government has created a 90-day resettlement program to welcome all refugees. The program assists in accepting refugees at the airport, providing affordable housing, providing medical assistance, obtaining a Social Security number, and enrolling children in school.

There are also programs for learning about American culture and society, getting a job, opening a bank account, and teaching English. The government allowed 90 days for the expected 80% of arrivals to become independent, find a job, and the remaining 20% ​​need additional services.

Miller-Wilson also said he had requested Congress to waive the application fee for humanitarian parole with the US Citizenship and Immigration Department. This leaves Afghanistan a few weeks ago when the US government leaves Afghanistan with US relatives. The application fee is over $ 500 per person. However, many Afghans have fairly large families and struggle to pay.

Lynn may have contributed to this report.

Lily Sun