While the world is in shock from the Islamic fundamentalist group, Taliban, entering Kabul, a letter from Sakena Yacoobi, an Afghan woman educator and the second Sunhak Peace Prize Laureate, arrived at the Sunhak Peace Prize Secretariat on the 17th.
The open letter, 'Afghanistan has fallen- What you can do to help,' contains the urgent voice of Dr. Yacoobi, calling for the protection of Afghan women and children from this crisis.
As the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) founder and CEO, Dr. Yacoobi continues to promote women's rights and education through the institute even during this desperate situation. In addition, she is proposing a way for people worldwide to join the Afghan refugee relief effort in solidarity with AIL.
Link to Afghan Learning Institute: https://www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org/
Dr. Yacoobi has sent this letter to many colleagues and organizations who have been promoting the rights of Afghan women. Former U.S. President George W. Bush released a statement calling for Afghan refugee relief on the 17th in Newsweek, citing Sakena Yacoobi's desperate letter at the end.
Link to the full text of former U.S. President George W. Bush's statement calling for relief in Afghanistan: https://www.newsweek.com/george-bush-urges-afghanistan-refugees-helped-without-delay-full-statement-1619960
The Sunhak Peace Prize Secretariat shares Dr. Yacoobi's message hoping that people worldwide will help the Afghan refugees.
This is one of the most difficult letters I have ever written. After twenty years, our government collapsed with almost no resistance. The constitution we worked so hard for, the rights our women sacrificed so much to gain, thrown out the window like scraps for the dogs. Our military and the Ghani government fled, leaving our women and children to face the Taliban with no support. The world watched it happen, without care. We begged, screaming for help. So, now we see peace is again made on the back of women and children. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has fallen, and Kabul is in complete chaos. My office and staff are unharmed, for which we thank God.
The nation of Afghanistan is in turmoil. My schools are still running as of now. We have been instructed that we can continue as long as we separate boys and girls. The day the Taliban took Kandahar, they planted three flags in the courtyard. My schools must be important, as they visited the very first day the Taliban took control. Our Women Learning Centers remain open as they primarily serve women. As of now, my staff is unharmed. We hope and pray this remains true. We have been told that Radio and TV Meraj are not to operate until we are given notice; we will wait for that instruction. We hope and pray that the Taliban wasn't lying when they told the world they did not intend to shut the schools, but our universities have already closed their doors to women and told them to go home. Burqa sales have tripled, as have the prices to purchase them. Women who lived through the Taliban before now go to purchase these garments, while the daughters raised under the American occupation throw them in their mothers' faces, refusing to wear them.
We are a nation at a crossroads, but AIL will do what AIL has always done. We will continue to educate and provide a safe space for children and women. We will continue to offer food, job training, and medical care for as long as we can remain in our facilities. When it is no longer possible to stay in those buildings, we will find new buildings and work there. Wherever we have schools now, we will have schools next week, next month, or next year. AIL was started in secret, and it will continue in secret if it must. While we are afraid, we will not be defeated. Our mission remains the same. We will set up schools in every province, now that the worst has come. We know what to expect. We know the Taliban very well. There is no question of how they operate or what they expect. We know how to manage them, and we will act accordingly.
Letter after letter, phone call after phone call, came in this weekend asking how you can help. We need humanitarian supplies. The refugee situation we updated you with last week and the week before has only deteriorated. We have 300,000 internal refugees and 80,000 children who are without shelter and food. Where we were short of supplies, now we are out. Those in need are overwhelming us. Aid agencies have left with the Americans. AIL will not be leaving, so we will expand our facilities to help those who lost everything, including their homes, in the fighting. We need dry milk, clothes, school supplies, medicine, hygiene items, and since Covid is still present, soap and sanitizers are critical. Many of you have asked what else you can do, and to that, I say to contact the UN and government officials and tell them you want them to use every possible tool they have to protect our women and girls through diplomatic means. Sanction Pakistan for their invasion of my country, and pray for the safety of my people.
Our democracy may have fallen for now. Ideas do not disappear so easily. One cannot kill whispers on the wind. The Taliban cannot crush a dream. We will prevail, even if it takes longer than we wanted it to.
Much love to you all,
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi
How you can help Afghanistan
Donate to AIL
Email the White House
Email Number 10 Downing Street
International Committee of the Red Cross