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School girl in Afghanistan

What's next in Afghanistan? Answering Your Questions

UPDATED as of August 11, 2021

With the news of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan in recent weeks, many of our friends and supporters have been contacting us to express their concern, and to ask questions about how recent events might affect CAI’s programs. While the situation is precarious and changing day-to-day, we are here to answer your questions and provide as much information as possible. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and Central Asia Institute’s responses. If you have further questions or would like additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@centralasiainstitute.org or call Hannah Denys, CAI’s Communications Director, at 406.585.7841.

How have recent events affected Central Asia Institute’s programs in Afghanistan?

At present, Afghanistan is facing crises on two fronts: A resurgence of the deadly coronavirus and the rapid escalation of violence as the Taliban battle with government forces for control of the country.

Earlier this summer the Afghan government ordered schools to close again in an effort to fight the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant, As a result, CAI was forced to put its educational support programs on a temporary hold. Recently, the government switched course, announcing that schools would reopen despite that most Afghans have not been vaccinated or even had access to the vaccine. In response, CAI launched a program to help protect vulnerable communities and is providing PPE, raising awareness about how to avoid transmission of the disease, and dispelling misinformation about the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have continued an aggressive campaign to gain control not only of rural areas but provincial capitals as well. Tragically, civilians – including women and children – have been caught in the crossfire and more than 400,000 people have been displaced, 50% of whom are children.   

How the escalating violence and attacks on civilians will affect CAI, its partners, and the communities we have long served is not yet clear. To date, several districts where CAI supports educational programs have fallen under Taliban control. Yet the Taliban’s policy on girls’ education can vary depending on local commanders. As of writing, the Talibs in the areas where CAI has programs have not stated that girls cannot be educated.

Nonetheless, it is well known that the Taliban, at the very least, want to impose restrictions on how girls are educated, on what subjects, and to what age. For example, in June, a Taliban spokesman indicated in an interview that the Taliban want “separation between girls and boys, women and men, in universities, schools or madrassas,” and in many parts of the country that are already under Taliban control, it is reported that girls are being prohibited from going to school beyond elementary school.  

CAI will continue to work with communities to confront these challenges to female education as they arise. In fact, many of CAI’s existing programs are designed to work around existing barriers to girls’ education, for example, through establishing community-based (or home-based) schools for girls and by training women to be teachers, especially in the remote, rural areas where we work.

What will happen if the Taliban takes control of the entire country?

It is unclear what types of rules or edicts the Taliban will impose – generally or in any one district in which we work. But it is likely that women’s rights and freedoms will suffer and that girls’ access to education – especially beyond primary school – will become even more challenging.

Yet in our experience, the people of Afghanistan, especially its women, are determined not to give up without a fight the hard-fought gains over the last two decades, especially in terms of education. Today, even in rural areas, most Afghans value education. A 2019 study found that 87 percent of Afghans strongly support female education. They recognize that education is the key to a better, more prosperous future for their families, communities, and country.

For our part, CAI will do what it has always done in Afghanistan, which is to work closely with our partners and communities to adapt to the changing needs on the ground. Whether it is a drought, COVID-19, conflict and insecurity, or restrictions on girls’ access to education, we will work to provide programs that meet the needs of the communities we have long served and unlock the transformative power of education to help solve the country’s many problems. We may need to stop and start up again, but we are committed to standing by the Afghan people as long as we’re able to do so.

How can people help?

While the U.S. military may be leaving Afghanistan, it is more important than ever for the people of Afghanistan to know that the American people stand with them. What’s happening in Afghanistan might fade from the news cycle, but you can stay informed and help inform others – share news updates with your family members and friends, or post about it on social media.  If you need more information, please reach out to us here at CAI.

Second, you can reach out to your representative in Congress and express your concern about the people of Afghanistan, and your support for Afghan women and girls. Ask them what they are doing to support Afghan women and girls and to protect and promote access to education in Afghanistan.

Third, you can support organizations like Central Asia Institute that provide educational and other development and humanitarian programs in Afghanistan – and ask your friends and family to support them as well. For more information on how to give, please visit our donation webpage or contact us at info@centralasiainstitute.org or 406.585.7841.

Thank you all again for your commitment to education, and for keeping hope alive. Please keep your eyes open for additional information from us including updates from the field and how you can help. 

34 responses to “What’s next in Afghanistan? Answering your questions.”

  1. THANKS FOR THE UPDATE….THE SITUTATION SEEMS VERY UNSATABLE AND i’M SURE THE GIRLS ARE WELL AWARE OF THEIR SITUATION. tHANKS FOR YOUR WORK.
    HARRY GREEN

  2. Thank you for your forthright report. These are challenging times for most.
    I want to keep doing the best I am able with limited resources and maximized needs around the world. It is my hope that CAI will be able to find a way to safely re-establish educational opportunities, especially for women and girls, and that they in turn will be willing and able to do the heavy slogging of ‘hanging in there’.

    • Thank you so much, Sandy. We are so grateful for your support. And yes, we will continue to work in Afghanistan for as long as we’re able. Right now we’re mobilizing to help people who have been displaced. They often lack shelter, food, and access to healthcare. We’ll do our best to help.

  3. The Taliban has asked for a list of girls names ages 20-40. to become wife’s to the Taliban solders.

    I am so concerned by this message. What can be done to help these girl’s?

    • Arline, this is troubling news. Never before in CAI’s 20-year history of working in Afghanistan has more been at stake for the Afghan women, girls, and families we serve. Yet, as always, we remain resolute in our commitment to do all we can to respond to this crisis and stand with the Afghan people. Thank you for standing with us.

  4. Thankyou so very much for this information. I realize that much is “up in the air”!
    I, of course, depend on God to protect all the people..including the women and girls! as well as neighbours helping neighbours! which is also a variable on which much depends!
    Please keep me posted. Gratefully, Margaret Shield csc

  5. Thank you for this update. I realize that your efforts in Afghanistan may well be restricted in the coming months. Can you tell us, please, how or if such restrictions will affect school-building and education (particularly for girls) in the other countries you work in? I will not stop giving what I can to CAI and am interested in how your programs may pivot to other projects. Thank you.

    • Thank you for your support, Gil. In Afghanistan, at this dark time, Central Asia Institute remains committed to doing all we can to continue our education programs. But for now, we’re shifting our immediate focus to the urgent needs of those who are most vulnerable. At present, we’re working with our local partners to assess the most immediate needs of the displaced, especially children, many of whom lack food, water, shelter, and healthcare. Please keep an eye out on our website and Facebook page for updates on how CAI is responding. In the other countries where we work, our programs are moving forward as planned and as COVID allows. We’re watching the situation closely and will be adapting as best we can to any developing situation.

  6. I would like info. About theWakhan Corridor. Please.
    I read on BBC that China is building a road.
    I also saw a map recently that showed the Wakhan Corridor under Taliban control.

    Please can you confirm? And share any updates? Thank you.

    • Hi Charlotte. The recent reports say that the entire country, including the Wakhan Corridor, have fallen to the Taliban. For a timelapse video of the takeover, you can look at the Long War Journal’s article – https://www.longwarjournal.org/mapping-taliban-control-in-afghanistan. Our local partners that work in the Wakhan Corridor are currently sheltering in place, so I don’t have a specific update for you on the Corridor at the moment, but we’ll do our best to keep you updated as we’re able. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time – info@centralasiainstitute.org

  7. Praying for peace for all the Afghan people, especially the women and girls.

  8. Thank you, this is helpful, as are all your good works.
    Please keep the information coming so we can do our part to promote peace and access to education.
    Sincerely,
    Meri

  9. Thank you for this update. This is a concerning time for the people of Afghanistan.

    • Thank you, Linda. Yes, it’s a very troubling time. We are doing everything that we can to let our Afghan friends and partners know that they are not alone. Thank you for your support.

  10. I think CAI schools will mostly continue because they operate with strong local leadership.

    • Thank you, Megan. We’re hoping our educational programs will be able to continue. We’re monitoring the situation closely and speaking to our partners and community members to chart a path forward.

  11. Thanks for the very good update on status of Afghanistan and impact on CAI programmes. We have supported CAI for many years, from Australia….
    As such, to ensure you don’t unintentionally reduce connectivity and impact, suggest in your “how can people help” approach in communiques that you use more globally inclusive language, such as the words “all people” and not just “American people”; and specify e.g. “for those of you in America that support us”, then mention Congress, etc…;
    just want to continue to see CAI succeed in its great endeavours,
    Best, Michael and Fiona

    • Dear Michael and Fiona,
      An excellent point. Well taken. I have updated our most recent statement to reflect this and will make a point to do so moving forward. We are so grateful for your support and for the support of our global community. Please reach out if you have any other suggestions – info@centralasiainstitute.org. They are always most welcome. Thank you again for standing with us and the people of Afghanistan.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Denys

  12. I am very happy for an update on what is happening and what might be happening in the future. Although our voices may be largely silent, our support is not. We so appreciate what you do, and are happy to be a small part of making that happen.

    • Dear Sheila,
      We have a quote on our website that speaks to this – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
      Never doubt that your support makes all the difference. We’re so grateful that you’re part of the CAI family.

      All the best,
      Hannah Denys

  13. Thank you very much for this update, and the reminder to contact my representatives.

    • Thank you, Margaret! We hope that our voices will reach the ears of people who can make change happen. Thank you for lifting your voice up in service of the Afghan people.

  14. I don’t think the Taliban are strong enough to take over the entire country and impose and educational system that restricts access for girls. However it is probably inevitable that the Taliban will impose an educational system that limits the education provided to both boys and girls depending on their political objectives. The Institute should maintain their involvement in the education of boys and girls in these areas so that they can have some influence on what boys and girls are taught. The resources of the central Asia institute however may have to be redirected to areas were the government retains control.

    • Dear Robert,
      Thank you for your note. It’s shocking to think that in the few days since you wrote this that the Taliban were able to take control of the country. At this dark time, Central Asia Institute remains committed to doing all we can to continue our education programs. But for now, we’re shifting our immediate focus to the urgent needs of those who are most vulnerable. At present, we’re working with our local partners to assess the most immediate needs of the displaced, especially children, many of whom lack food, water, shelter, and healthcare. We will do our best to keep you updated as the situation evolves.

      All the best,
      Hannah Denys

  15. Is there any prospect for CAI to engage in welcoming and assisting Afghan refugees slated to receive special visas because of their association with American military forces prior to the pullout? Thousands of former translators and their families face dire threats from the Taliban. Refugee resettlement is very difficult in Montana; the working partnership of the International Rescue Committee and Missoula Softlanding has been largely successful, but resources are strained and overstretched. Affordable housing is the most vexing issue, as it would be in Bozeman. Anyway, helping to resettle Afghans in this community strikes me as a challenge that CAI would be uniquely qualified to organize and coordinate, if bureaucratic barriers at the federal level could be overcome.

    • Dear Stephen,
      Thank you for sharing that idea. As you say, there will be a lot of work in the coming weeks and months to ensure refugees are resettled safely and that they are set up to thrive. Currently, at CAI we are focusing our efforts on helping displaced persons still in Afghanistan, but we are keeping all of our options open as we attempt to adapt to the ever-changing situation. Please do stay in touch and we will do our best to keep you updated about the efforts we are working on in support of our Afghan friends.

      All the best,
      Hannah Denys

  16. These updates are important and contain valuable information that help me – and those who ask me – understand the situation.

    • Thank you, Jed. We’ll do our best to keep our friends informed. Thank you for your continued support!

  17. How will the basic needs be distributed to those with critical needs such as water, shelter?, food, clothing, and medicine?

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