NEWSLETTER: October 10 – More successful evacuations from Afghanistan

October 10th 2021

Team JHR saw interesting new movement this week from Afghanistan, and we’re now up to 133 out, with 420+ still remaining. A total of 38 of those 133 have now made it all the way to Canada. Canada-landed arrivals now include the Shams family, as reported in the Toronto Star last weekend, the Sharif Sharaf family sponsored by the Globe and Mail, Farida Nekzad and her two children, co-sponsored by CPJ and IFEX, and the Sediqi family of all-female television station Zan-TV, who were legally supported by excellent Canadian-Afghan lawyer Mohammad Qasim Popal.

We celebrated real joy in some quarters, as women journalists escaped with the support of a Vital Voices plane via Albania. We also had some luck, for the first time since the Qatar air bridge went down, getting two families on our lists out to Qatar. Qatar has indicated they are prepared to do more, but they need more concrete reassurances from Canada that the people they take are actually going to be heading on to Canada.

One of the Qatar families, the family of Afghan-Canadian journalist Qais Azimry, is a supposedly simple and straightforward family reunification effort. Yet, as has been all too common in this experience, the family calls the phone line that IRCC created for applicants, only to be told there is no record of their application! (They had applied to the IRCC line back in August.) We are facing similar problems in Pakistan and Ukraine. Third-country waystations are reluctant to take more Canada-bound people without assurances they actually will be Canada-bound.

The superb Mellissa Fung has been supporting a group of women human rights advocates and Hazara since August, with very little traction from IRCC. This powerful piece in Friday’s Globe and Mail does an excellent job of giving voice to the frustrations those still working to get families out feel as we navigate this insane task. As Mellissa points out, the Taliban have declared that girls older than 12 may not go to school, let alone to university. For a country whose foreign affairs are explicitly guided by a Feminist International Assistance Policy, whose Deputy Prime Minister led a significant effort to build a global coalition of countries in support of media freedoms, this is Canada’s moment to step up and lead, not abandon these journalists, women, girls and families to their fate. We need to be doing all we can to prioritize these groups, get them cleared for Canada, and get them the hell out of there.

We are seeing positive indicators from Global Affairs Canada that more support is coming to help coordinate travel. What is now urgently needed, for all these Herculean efforts to work, is more internal coherence at IRCC and simpler processes to get journalists and their families travel papers and a clear onward path. We know (and appreciate!) that officials are working around the clock to create that internal coherence. We just hope it won’t come too late.

Thank you for your support. Please donate, share @jhrnews updates, and support us as we work to meet the overwhelming needs of this insane moment.


Rachel Pulfer


Land Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge the land on which the Journalists for Human Rights’ head office operates and
recognize the longstanding relationships Indigenous nations have with these territories. For thousands
of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the
Mississaugas of the Credit River. Tkaronto (Toronto) is in the Dish with One Spoon Territory and is
home to Indigenous peoples from many nations across Turtle Island who continue to care for this land

To read more on JHR’s land acknowledgement, click here.

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