A letter to Congress from a women’s rights advocate and Afghan refugee

Dear members of the U.S. Congress,

I am one of the women who has worked for years with the United States government and their partners to promote peace, women’s rights, and human rights in Afghanistan. I have worked in the most difficult security and social conditions alongside the women, children, and men of that land, and I did my best working towards greater freedom of speech and promoting human rights. When Kabul fell, it was as if I fell from the height of a mountain into a valley. We stood by our American friends for years, and now our enemies have taken control of the country.

It was very difficult for me when I left Afghanistan with my family during the evacuation. I felt like a child who lost their mother; helpless and desperate. The first glimmers of hope for life returned to my heart when I stepped on U.S. soil. I knew that the U.S. did not abandon us and would support us. My asylum case took more than a year to process from the time I applied until I received the decision, and that time for me was like walking on a razor’s edge. I was living in uncertainty and not knowing what the future held. Every day, the whispers that the future of those who came to the U.S. on humanitarian parole was unknown, put me and my family under so much strain. We had left our homeland and everything behind, and the uncertainty took a lot of energy from us.

Fortunately, I now live as an asylee in the U.S., but I know that many of my compatriots are still living a secret and difficult life in Afghanistan due to the fear of the Taliban. I know that many women and girls are still living in adversity under the Taliban rule and are deprived of all freedoms. They are denied the right to education, work, and freedom. I ask you to help by providing more humanitarian visas to human rights activists, women, girls, and others who have the right to experience a life of freedom, peace, and equality. Thousands of people who worked for freedom, equality, and human rights and stood by the United States government remain in Afghanistan. Don’t leave them behind. I ask you to expedite the process of granting asylum and let the thousands of Afghans who are waiting for your answer go through the process of resettlement and integration into American society with peace of mind.

With respect and thanks,

Halima Hazara Deeba

(translated from Dari by Navid Ahmad Hewadwal)

Refugee Voices

Published on March 29, 2024


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