Afghanistan, which has recently come under the control of the Taliban, is facing deadly violence and oppression by the Taliban authorities. In response, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to do his part in welcoming Afghan Refugees.
Taliban’s Takeover of Afghanistan
The Taliban forces acted quickly, expanding their footprint in Kabul by mid-August. Their arrival sparked panic and mayhem in the capital, with many Afghans, as well as citizens of other countries, rushing to Hamid Karzai International Airport to seek a way out. Western embassies were quick to move staff to the airport, which was under U.S. military control.
The takeover by the Taliban forces means that Afghans are uncertain about what their future holds, as the Taliban holds hardline leaders in core positions and excludes women and members of the Shiite minority.
Gov. Wolf’s Efforts to Welcome Afghan Refugees
Gov. Wolf said his administration is working with federal and local partners to help settle refugees. Tens of thousands of Afghan refugees are desperate to leave as the American military withdraws and the Taliban gains control of the country. In particular, many Afghans who have aided U.S. military units or served as interpreters fear for their own and their families’ lives if they can’t get out.
“PA is in contact with federal and local partners to coordinate resources to resettle Afghan refugees seeking safety from violence,” Wolf said on Twitter. “Our commonwealth has long served as a refuge for those seeking peace and stability amid crisis, and we will continue to help in any way possible.”
A Republican from Lancaster County, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, invited his constituents to contact his office if they need assistance with helping Afghans. On Friday, Smucker stated that “I am calling for a thorough and immediate investigation into the decisions that were made by all of the officials involved in the process that led to the crisis we are currently seeing unfold in Afghanistan.”
Many other Congressional candidates, including Democratic U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle and Mary Gay Scanlon, have been relentlessly trying to help their constituents out of Afghanistan. They encouraged anyone who knows of someone having trouble getting out of Afghanistan to contact their offices to seek help.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, with the help of nonprofit organizations, has commenced several projects to welcome refugees from Afghanistan and to provide them with job training, instruction in English, and other services to help them settle and build new lives.
Other Governors Also Reached Out to Offer Help
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox wrote to President Biden expressing his desire to help. “I recognize Utah plays no direct role in shaping U.S. Diplomatic or military policy, but we have a long history of welcoming refugees from around the world and helping them restart their lives in a new country,” Cox wrote. “We are eager to continue that practice and assist with the resettlement of individuals and families fleeing Afghanistan, especially those who valiantly helped U.S. troops, diplomats, journalists, and other civilians over the past 20 years.”
In a video, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that their state will welcome interpreters from Afghanistan, stating that “We have a moral obligation to help them.”
In a statement on Twitter, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said, “I’m coordinating with DC and have made it clear: we’re ready and willing to take thousands more. Virginia will continue to serve as safe harbor.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also on Twitter, said, “We have a responsibility to these heroes and their families and we want to do our part to help America remain that shining city on a hill.” He said his state would welcome refugees who aided the American military.
California Gov. Gavin Newson and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, among others, also said they are ready to offer assistance to Afghanistan refugees.