How can you help when a language skill can get you murdered?

Afghan interpreters who worked with US and NATO forces need immediate assistance. Even before the US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, these translators and interpreters were in mortal danger from the Taliban, writes Alison Kroulek.

This article is reproduced here by kind permission of K-International

In fact, at least 300 of them have been killed since 2001. Now, that danger has multiplied exponentially. As the United States withdraws its troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban takes control, Afghans who helped US and NATO troops during the 20-year war are scrambling to get out. If you’re watching the news wishing you could do something, well, we’re right there with you. To that point, here’s a list of things you can do and organisations you can donate to that will help Afghan interpreters and their families, along with other refugees.

How to help Afghan interpreters waiting in Afghanistan

Interpreters and their families currently in Afghanistan are living on borrowed time. While the US and other NATO allies have created special visa programmes to accommodate them, these programmes have historically been plagued by delays, and the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down processing even more. As a result, even people who applied for visas years ago were still stuck in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over.

Around 2,000 people were evacuated as Kabul fell. However, that still leaves tens of thousands of people stuck in Afghanistan who helped the United States and its NATO allies, including (but certainly not limited to) interpreters and translators. While the US does plan to start evacuating at least 5,000 refugees per day, people on the ground need help as they wait.

As the Taliban advanced across the country, many fled their homes and are trapped in and around Kabul waiting for an exit. While they need a way out as soon as possible, they also need basic needs met in the meantime. Here are some organizations helping to meet those needs.


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is providing displaced Afghans with emergency shelter, water, food and healthcare. You can learn more and donate here.

International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee is working to help displaced people in Afghanistan with various types of aid, including emergency cash assistance and protection services. They are also helping Afghan refugees resettle in the United States. You can donate here. 


AfghanAid is also providing emergency cash assistance, food and hygiene kits to displaced families, and donations are being doubled via TheBigGive.

Veteran’s Transition Network (Canada)

Additionally, the Veteran’s Transition Network is accepting donations to help interpreters and their families being evacuated to Canada, as they wait in Afghanistan. Find donation information here.

How to help Afghan interpreters once they leave Afghanistan

Once out of Afghanistan, Afghan refugees will need help starting new lives in unfamiliar countries, with all that entails. The UK and Canada have both made plans to take in 20,000 Afghan refugees. The United States has not released a specific number at this time but is making space for at least 20-22,000 people at military Fort Bliss, Texas and Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

All of these people will need assistance starting out, no matter where they settle. Here are some organizations that can help.

No One Left Behind

No One Left Behind is a humanitarian organisation that is helping Afghan interpreters and their families to resettle in the United States. This charity offers assistance to Special Immigrant Visa recipients, including help with finances, employment and other needs. It’s the only nonprofit that focuses specifically on the needs of Afghan interpreters and their families.

International Refugee Assistance Project

In far too many cases, interpreters, translators and other vulnerable people have been trapped in Afghanistan by a web of red tape. At this point, getting out is the first priority. But even after leaving Afghanistan, they’ll be in limbo without the proper paperwork. The International Refugee Assistance Project provides legal assistance to refugees, helping them to obtain the necessary visas to start new lives somewhere safe. Learn more and donate here.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are currently looking for volunteers to help Afghan families who are being evacuated into the United States, with a focus on the following cities: Houston, Seattle/Tacoma, Washington DC and surrounding areas, and Fort Worth, Texas. You can sign up to volunteer here. 

They are also accepting donations specifically for these families via the charity Neighbors in Need: Afghan Allies. Donate here.

Additionally, no matter where you are, there’s likely to be one or more organisations that provide assistance to new arrivals fleeing violence overseas, including food, shelter and legal services such as representation before an immigration court or asylum hearings. Now would be an excellent time to make a donation.

The news coming from Afghanistan over the past few weeks has been devastating.  It’s easy to feel helpless watching these events unfold half a world away.  We want you to know there are organizations that would love your support right now as they work with Afghani refugees on a daily basis. This is an incomplete list of some groups doing good work.