In response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, a non-partisan network of organizations and individuals launched Lifeline Afghanistan (LifelineAfghanistan.ca) to engage Canadians from across the country in supporting Afghan refugees.
"We have been focused on extraction - getting as many people at risk out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible - and now we need to focus on supporting those refugees," said Sally Armstrong, OC, journalist, human rights activist and co-founder of Lifeline Afghanistan.
"Canada responded quickly and effectively to support Syrians, by determining that refugee status applies to the entire group, absent evidence to the contrary, streamlining processes, and investing in support on the ground in third countries to help move people quickly. This effort must be replicated for the Afghan people," said Hila Taraky, a Canadian-Afghan lawyer at Arfocus Legal and co- founder of Lifeline Afghanistan.
"Canada has promised to resettle 20,000 people but we need to engage Canadians in helping meet this goal," said the Honourable Senator Ratna Omidvar referring to Canada's experience with Operation Lifeline (1979) which resettled Indochinese refugees and Operation Lifeline Syria (2015) which resettled 40,000 Syrian refugees. "We did it before and we can do it again."
"Our city will be the destination for thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan. This is an opportunity for Torontonians and all Canadians to once again show their compassion and commitment to helping others and to work together to support the sponsorship and resettlement efforts," said Toronto Mayor John Tory. "On a personal level, my experience in helping sponsor and resettle a Syrian family was life-changing. Lifeline Afghanistan will build on the lessons learned to help facilitate private sponsorship and support for Afghan refugees. We have done it before and we can do it again and our city and our country will be stronger for it."
"Canada is a global leader in bringing its citiz ens together to support the resettlement of refugees," said Wendy Cukier, co-founder of Lifeline Afghanistan and the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge. "We know through our previous work that new approaches to private sponsorship and support which leverage technology, innovation, and sharing platforms and engaging Canadians can produce significant results." Lifeline Afghanistan will build on the lessons learned during the Syrian refugee crisis and will be supported by the Diversity Institute in the Ted Rogers School of Management.
It is estimated that there are more than 3.5 million Afghans who are currently internally displaced within the country. In addition to those within Afghanistan's borders, about 2.2 million refugees and asylum seekers are in neighbouring nations.
Building on lessons learned during the Syrian Crisis, complementing existing initiatives, Lifeline Afghanistan will:
- Build awareness and engagement of civil society in the sponsorship of Afghan refugees
- Curate resources and connect to organizations supporting Afghan refugees through humanitarian relief, advocacy, settlement, service provision, research and others
- Work with Sponsorship Agreement Holders and others to engage Canadians in private sponsorship and to provide practical support to facilitate the process
- Support skills assessment and trauma informed approaches to skills development and work with employers and service providers to create pathways to economic and social inclusion.
- Promote evidence based, innovative and collaborative approaches to supporting refugees.
Lifeline Afghanistan as founded by Wendy Cukier, Hila Taraky, Sally Armstrong and Ratna Omidvar. Initial supporting organizations include: Afghan Women's Organization Refugee and Immigrant Services, the Canadian Afghan Lawyers' Association, Ismaili Council for Canada - Future Ready Initiative, Journalists for Human Rights, Skills for Change, Magnet, Ted Rogers School of Management, Diversity Institute, TNO- The Neighbourhood Organization, Immigrant Employment Council of BC, Catholic Crosscultural Services, Wesley Urban Ministry, Windmill Microlending, Immigrant Council and Art Association, Scadding Court, St. Matthew's House, the Association for Canadian Studies and World Education Services.