Afghanistan Update – October 2023

Task Force Liberty Afghan Evac Lt. Col. Adam Howland

Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.

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Relocation from Afghanistan

Leaving Afghanistan

Canada Helps Afghans Relocate. Canada is on the brink of fulfilling its commitment to accept 40,000 Afghans before the end of this year. The pledge, made by Ottawa in August 2021 when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, was driven by concerns for the safety of Afghans who had collaborated with Canadian programs and the former Afghan government. “Canada Admits Nearly 40,000 Afghans, Willing to Take More”, Voice of America, October 25, 2023.

United Kingdom Helps Afghans Relocate from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The UK government is to charter flights to relocate Afghan refugees living in Pakistan who have been promised UK visas, starting on Thursday. Thousands of people who worked with or for the UK government in Afghanistan and fled the Taliban are in Pakistan, waiting for relocation to the United Kingdom.

Pakistan to Deport Illegal Afghan Immigrants. Pakistan on Tuesday ordered all illegal immigrants, including 1.73 million Afghan nationals, to leave the country or face expulsion after revealing that 14 of 24 suicide bombings in the country this year were carried out by Afghan nationals. Most of the Afghans have fled the Taliban as the faced retribution for being part of the previous Afghan government, were former members of the Afghan security forces, or supported the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. Many have fled due to the dire economic situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban have taken over. “Pakistan orders illegal immigrants, including 1.73 mln Afghans, to leave”, Reuters, October 3, 2023.

Letter to Pakistan. #AfghanEvac organized an open letter to Pakistani leaders in October 2023. More than 150 Americans across the diplomatic, national security, and humanitarian sectors from the leadership level all the way down to volunteers signed on to send a clear message. The intent is to ask Pakistani leaders to not deport Afghans who have a pending or approved pathway to legal U.S. immigration. Open Letter to Pakistani Leaders, #AfghanEvac, October 17, 2023.

Banner Resettlement Afghan Evacuees

Afghan Resettlement

AAA and American Support. There are tens of thousands of Afghans currently in the United States that are left in legal limbo. They were flown from Afghanistan to ‘lily pads’ in the Middle East and Europe and then to the United States on either U.S. military planes or aircraft chartered by the U.S. government. Now they need to find a and permanent and legal pathway to residency in the United States. The proposed Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA) solves this vexing problem. 9 out of 10 Americans support the AAA yet Congress is holding back. “American’s Support for Helping Stranded Afghans is Overwhelming”, by John Noonan, National Review, October 26, 2023.

Diversity Visa. Although a long short, some Afghans may be able to apply for a U.S. Diversity Visa and if lucky, find their way to the United States. Read more here:

Military Interpreter Assists Refugees in Oregon. A former Afghan interpreter for the U.S. Army immigrated to the United States a few years back. Now he assists newly arriving Afghan families who have been relocated to Oregon. (Here Is Oregon, Oct 23, 2023)

Banner News about Afghanistan

News About Afghanistan

Joint International Statement on Afghanistan. Special Representatives and Envoys for Afghanistan from Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States met in Rome on 18 October 2023. The participants issued a statement on the current humanitarian and economic situation, opium trade, and human rights violations in Afghanistan. “Joint Statement on Afghanistan”, U.S. Department of State, October 31, 2023.

Deportation Centers. Pakistan’s government warned that action will be taken against Pakistanis who are found to be sheltering unauthorized migrants in the country. The government is also setting up deportation centers for an estimated 1.7 million Afghans who are in the country without authorization. “Pakistan Sets Up Deportation Centers to Hold Illegal Migrants”, by Munir Ahmed, The Diplomat, October 27, 2023.

Afghan Security. For the past seven decades Afghanistan has been the scene of numerous wars and conflicts. Although the Taliban appear to have established themselves as the new government the group still faces security challenges. “The Shifting Landscape of Security in Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan”, Eurasia Review, October 24, 2023.

Hearings on Taliban and U.S. Weapons. The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is opening a probe into the DoD’s processes and policies to ensure that American military aid and weapons are properly distributed and accounted for. “Comer & Greene Press DOD on U.S. Military Aid and Weapons Falling into Terrorist Hands”, U.S. House, October 23, 2023.

Life Under the Taliban

Activism in Afghanistan – A Dangerous Occupation. The Taliban regime is not hesitant to detain and imprison those who are engaged in the advancement of human rights in Afghanistan. Many of these activists spend months confined before they are eventually released. “The Perils of Activism in Afghanistan”, by Zafar Iqbal Yousafzai, Eurasia Review, October 30, 2023.

Oppression of Women. The United States might have failed in its mission to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan; however, it did accomplish one important objective. It established within some sectors of Afghan society the belief that men and women were equal. This was done in the face of a culture that was quite averse to that concept of equality for women. “Unveiling Oppression: The Taliban’s War on Women’s Rights in Afghanistan”, by Laurence Butt, Cedars, October 24, 2023.

Justice System Lacking. After the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan the countries justice system has been dismantled and neglected. “Collapse of justice system in Afghanistan leaves countless at the mercy of the Taliban”, The Law Society, October 16, 2023.

Humanitarian assistance and economy in Afghanistan

Humanitarian Assistance and Economy

WHO Humanitarian Report. The World Health Organization has posted its September 2023 “Emergency Situation Report” for Afghanistan online. (WHO, October 30, 2023, PDF, 7 pages).

Another Natural Disaster. A third earthquake, measuring 6.3 magnitude, struck an area close to Herat on Sunday, October 14, 2023. Over 100 have been injured with some deaths reported as well. The last two earthquakes flattened thousands of homes, killed over 3,000 people, injured more than 7,000, and displaced thousands. The United States is providing over $12 million in aid for Afghan earthquake relief. The Hindu Kush Mountain range lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. Afghan women seem to be especially at risk.

Facebook and Surviving. One Afghan journalist has coped with the economic downturn and no job with selling traditional Afghan clothing onlineAfghanistan Analysts Network, October 16, 2023.

Banner Commentary about Afghanistan

Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion

Pakistan’s Gamble. Islamabad wants Kabul to take actual action against the TTP and is using Afghan refugees as a bargaining chip. Afghans have been asked to voluntarily leave Pakistan by November 1st. Pakistan currently hosts over 3.5 million Afghan refugees; many of them in the country illegally. “Pakistan’s Afghan Gamble: Refugees as a Strategic Tool Against the Taliban”, by Shanthie Mariet D’Souza, The Diplomat, October 30, 2023.

Security in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime faces threats from two insurgent groups. One is the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) based in the east and north of Afghanistan; the other is the former regime police and military leaders based in the north of Afghanistan. The security situation in Afghanistan is in a state of flux. “The Shifting Landscape of Security in Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan”, by Shah Khalid, Eurasia Review, October 24, 2023.

U.S. Failure. William Byrd writes on how and why the initial victory in the fall of 2001 was frittered away in the following years by the United States and its allies. “Getting the Basics Wrong: Key U.S. Failures in Afghanistan”, Lawfare, October 10, 2023.

China and Afghanistan. A review of China’s interaction with Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, U.S. involvement for over twenty years ending in 2021, and the with the current regime is the focus of an article by Md. Obaidullah. “From Historical Bonds to Modern Alliances: Decoding China’s Relations with Afghanistan”, TGP: The Geopolitics, October 26, 2023.

U.S. Engagement with the Taliban? For the United States, greater engagement with the Taliban may not be the worst policy – there are few options. “A Shift Toward More Engagement with the Taliban?”, by Kate Bateman, USIP, October 25, 2023.

banner - resources for Afghans and Afghan Evac Volunteers

Resources for Afghans and Afghan Evac Volunteers

Badger Six. A group of former CIA paramilitary officers and Special Forces personnel have formed an organization called Badger Six to assist former members of the Northern Alliance in relocating from Afghanistan and other nearby countries. “These US Veterans aren’t giving up on Afghan fighters who saved their lives”, New York Post, November 8, 2023.

#AfghanEvac Resources. The #AfghanEvac Coalition frequently updates its “Resources” webpage to assist volunteers with casework help and the navigation of the complex immigration process. It has a list of resources for Afghan allies, volunteer advocates, and advocacy organizations.

#AfghanEvac Caseworker Guide. The #AfghanEvac Coalition has published (Sep 2023) a guide to assist those in the Afghan evac community who are assisting in the relocation and resettlement of Afghans to the United States. It has been compiled based on #AfghanEvac volunteers’ professional and lived experience, meetings with U.S. Government officials, and the sharing of best practices across the coalition ecosystem. It is subject to change and the information contained therein is not, and should not be considered, legal advice. PDF, 44 pages.

Books about Afghanistan

Banner Books about Afghanistan

Check out books about Afghanistan, the Taliban, decades of war, culture, and more.

Books, Reports, Podcasts, Videos, and Events

Report – Citizenship and Immigration Statuses of the U.S. Foreign-Born Population, Congressional Research Service, CRS IF11806, updated October 6, 2023, PDF, 3 pages.


Photo: Space Force Lt. Col. Adam Howland, Task Force Liberty lead culture advisor, shows his patches to an Afghan boy at Liberty Village, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 7, 2021. (Photo by Army Spc. James Liker).