Mission and Ministry Board approves grant for new collaboration to aid Afghanistan evacuees

A new joint Church of the Brethren and Church World Service (CWS) effort supporting the resettlement of Afghan evacuees in the US has received support from the Mission and Ministry Board and a grant of $52,000 from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF).

In a special action last week, the Church of the Brethren board approved a staff request from Brethren Disaster Ministries to engage in the new collaboration with CWS and to approve the grant request.

In related news

A webpage of resources about how to help Afghanistan evacuees and refugees has been provided for Church of the Brethren congregations and members. Staff of Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy worked together to gather information about resources as, with many thousands of Afghan evacuees arriving in the US, churches are challenged to welcome these strangers that flee persecution in their homeland. Go to www.brethren.org/bdm/afghanistan-2021.

Church of the Brethren general secretary David Steele is one of the leaders of member denominations of Church World Service and the National Council of Churches who have signed the following “Ecumenical Statement: Support of Afghans Seeking Refuge”:

“Since the United States began its withdrawal from Afghanistan, many Afghans are in grave danger. Those who face imminent harm must be evacuated to safety immediately. We have a moral obligation to welcome Afghans seeking refuge. This profound humanitarian emergency must be met with compassion. Church World Service, the National Council of Churches, and our 37 member denominations reaffirm the commitments established in our ‘Ecumenical Declaration: to Expand Welcome’ and invite all people of faith to join together in prayer, love, and action to protect vulnerable Afghans fleeing violence and persecution. We call upon people of faith to provide humanitarian protection for Afghans in harm’s way and to do everything in their power to show solidarity, support, and welcome to our Afghan neighbors. Together, we will have a significant impact on the lives of those in need through assistance with housing, nourishment, legal services, advocacy, donations, and case management. These critical services will establish the foundations of a new life for those fleeing persecution. We implore the Biden administration, US Congress, state lawmakers, and local officials to embrace their important roles in the evacuation and protection of Afghans seeking refuge. It is urgent that leaders at all levels recognize the opportunity of this moment. Together, we must ensure the provision of services and invest the resources needed to help our new neighbors thrive in their new communities–our communities. In this critical moment, let us covenant to work together and fulfill our commitments to love and welcome our Afghan neighbors.”

New initiative with CWS

This new Church of the Brethren initiative will appeal to congregations to help support and/or resettle Afghan evacuees, and may include a variety of resources to assist congregations in this work including a webpage sharing details about how to support Afghan families, advocate for Afghan families, apply for Brethren Faith in Action grants for qualifying congregations, and more.

CWS has asked its member denominations, including the Church of the Brethren–which is a founding member–to issue joint appeals challenging congregations and members to help resettle Afghan evacuees and is requesting at least $2 million to help resettle Afghan evacuees by helping them with health insurance, housing, food assistance, mental health support, school enrollment and, hopefully, community sponsorship.

“The United States government is estimating 75,000 Afghanistan nationals are fleeing to the US amid fears of persecution and retribution from the Taliban as the US troops withdraw from their country,” said the grant request. “Many are entering the US with a Humanitarian Parole status rather than being admitted as refugees; others have been given a special visa; and other Afghans already have an immigrant status in the US.

“The Humanitarian Parolee status allows people fleeing a compelling emergency (e.g., being targeted by the Taliban for supporting US troops) admission to the US, but they don’t qualify for many of the resettlement services the US government provides to immigrants with regular refugee status. These government services are mostly provided through nine refugee resettlement agencies, including Church World Service, meaning that many of the 75,000 Afghan evacuees won’t have access to health insurance, food programs, housing assistance, or cash assistance during part of their first year in the US.”

CWS already has been approved to resettle at least 3,410 Afghans who received humanitarian parole for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, and will receive more evacuees in the 2022 fiscal year.

To contribute financially to this work give online at https://churchofthebrethren.givingfuel.com/bdm. Please write “Afghan resettlement” in the box for “Additional Gift Notes.”


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