On August 19, 2021, SFS Dean Joel Hellman sent the following statement to members of the SFS campus regarding the impact of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan:
Dear SFS students,
Whatever your view might be on the decision and implementation of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, I know we are all watching with great concern the implications for the Afghan people, especially those who are most at risk because they took advantage of the increased freedoms of the past two decades. We know that the strong voices for women’s inclusion in all aspects of Afghan society are particularly vulnerable. We know that those who supported international development, humanitarian and security efforts remain at risk. And we are concerned about Afghan scholars and students at institutions such as the American University of Afghanistan and across the country. Reports from Kabul suggest that evacuation efforts are plagued by chaos and uncertainty. As someone who had the privilege to work in Afghanistan, I have reached out to the many colleagues and friends who remain there to do wherever I can to support them. I know many of our SFS community members are doing the same.
First and foremost, I hope we can all reach out to members of our community from Afghanistan, and with family, friends and loved ones still there, to express our support at this difficult time.
Second, we must continue to press our own governments to do more to support those Afghans who supported us throughout these many years and to ensure that the people of Afghanistan do not lose whatever gains achieved throughout these years.
Finally, I want to to report back on some efforts we are making to help those at risk:
Georgetown is a member of both Scholars at Risk and the New University in Exile, we are engaged in efforts to see how best to support those scholars, including at our campus in Doha.
The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, which has for many years been a resounding champion for women’s rights in Afghanistan, has been mobilized in a highly public fashion to push the US to support Afghan women activists. Its Director, Melanne Verveer, put out some very practical steps in the The Washington Post that the US could take to do just that.
We are seeking to identify any of our alumni who might have been impacted to see how we can help.
This year, we will be hosting the former Afghan Ambassador to the United States Roya Rahmani as a Fellow at Georgetown and I hope she can provide a vital link to our Afghan colleagues.
In the meantime, we will be following the situation closely, reaching out to our community members affected, and raising our voices in support of the Afghan people.