Resource hotline for Afghan evacuees launches, complements local efforts at Fort Bliss

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A child holds up a piece of artwork while drawing in a tent at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Village, in New Mexico, where Afghan refugees are being housed, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. The Biden administration provided the first public look inside the U.S. military base where Afghans airlifted out of Afghanistan are screened, amid questions about how the government is caring for the refugees and vetting them. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Organizations across the country are working to make Afghan evacuees at military installations like Fort Bliss in El Paso feel more at home.

On Monday, the Tahirih Justice Center launched a national helpline for Afghan evacuees while local organizations continue to provide support as needed. 

Afghan citizens may now call a dedicated number to be connected to resources and local organizations that are providing on-the-ground support.

Staff at the Tahirih Justice Center are trauma-informed, and will also be holding remote legal screenings with anyone presenting gender-based asylum claims for potential pro bono legal representation. 

“At Tahirih, we believe we are one human family and that the welfare of each of us is inextricably bound to the welfare of all,” said Maricarmen Garza, Tahirih’s Chief of Programs. “When one part of that family is in crisis, those of us with the knowledge and resources to help must act. We are proud to be able to offer this support and plan to grow this project as we continue to learn more about the needs of Afghans seeking safety in the U.S.”

Tahirih’s Afghan Asylum Helpline is open Monday through Friday, from 8am to 2pm MST and the number is 888-991-0852.

Pashto and Dari interpreters are available. 

“We’ve been in communication with both local and national service providers trying to coordinate who’s doing what, trying to take out some of that guess work from our arriving immigrants so that we can connect them and help them make those much needed calls and/or receive the services that they need at this time,” Garza tells KTSM.

Local organizations like the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) have been working around the clock to collect donations for the Afghan evacuees on Fort Bliss.

“The generosity here from the community in El Paso and Fort Bliss is huge and really helping these families take those tentative first steps into settling into a new country,” says George Elsaesser, Executive Director at the ASYMCA.

The ASYMCA has created a list of needed items and an Amazon Wish List of items needed that include long sleeved shirts for men, women, and children, undergarments, grooming products, and more. 

“What’s helpful for us,” explains Elsaesser on the support needed for the ASYMCA’s efforts, “is for people to stick to the list that’s on our Facebook page and stick to the list that’s on our Amazon Wish List.”

The ASYMCA is also in need of volunteers to help process the donations that are dropped off.

Both Garza and Elsaesser emphasize the extraordinary circumstances that brought the evacuees to places like Fort Bliss, and the long journey ahead for them.

“These families have come here with nothing,” says Elsaesser, “and eventually they will go through the resettlement process. But right now, what they need are the items that are on those lists.”

The ASYMCA’s Facebook page can be found here and its Amazon Wish List can be found here.

Monetary donations can be made here.

For more information on Afghan evacuees on Fort Bliss, click here; for our complete coverage on Afghan evacuees, click here

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