CONCILIUM AFGHANISTAN EFFORTS
On August 19th, Concilium Founder & President, Scott Brawner retasked our entire staff towards supporting the evacuation efforts of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. While many organizations raised money for seats on evacuation flights, the Concilium team understood that many Afghans struggled to make their way safely to the airport to fill those seats, identifying the need for accurate and actionable information that would help them travel safely. So, we set up a 24/7 watch center to monitor the situation on the ground, and, by God's grace, we effectively leveraged our network to help guide several individuals and families to safety.
Both before and after August 31st, we remained committed to our mission and vision, and supported Afghanistan efforts primarily with resources from our regular programs and services. The impact highlights below point back to our mission: to build capacity and resilience into Gospel advance so others may hear and live We praise the Lord for his mercy and grace that allowed us to aid in these efforts.
Published 31 written products involving strategic threat forecasts, crisis response guidance, and attack warnings to the 30+ organizations Concilium actively supports, as well as 20 new organizational/ individual contacts.
Crisis Management Support
Received 116 direct assistance requests involving 2,430 individuals. Each request received a direct response from Concilium and was either assisted directly by Concilium, given the most recent situation update and available resources, or put in contact with a thoroughly vetted and trusted partner.
Hosted a joint event with The Resilience Resource to equip over 100 individuals working with Afghan refugees to care for individuals in crisis in a culturally sensitive way. Additionally, we partnered with regional international development experts to curate mother-tongue video content for newly resettled Afghans on topics such as host culture/family dynamics, cultural norms and crisis and trauma response.
timeline OF EVENTS
The Taliban takes control of Kabul and seeks to establish itself as a legitimate government. They announced that foreign civilians who remain in Kabul will be allowed to register. The US maintains control of the Hamid Karzai International Airport and parts of Kabul during the evacuation.
The US Department of State reiterates shelter-in-place guidance for US citizens and Afghans as they fill out Repatriation Assistance Requests. Taliban fighters in some areas of Kabul go door-to-door looking for people who have worked for international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foreign governments, former Afghan government and state entities, as well as women in government and media.
The Taliban and the US negotiate the safe passage of civilians to the airport through August 31st. The Taliban set up multiple checkpoints around the airport and prevent the passage of Afghan nationals while allowing the passage of foreigners. Taliban forces allude to no violence against women, while emphasizing that Sharia Law will be the basis of governance. Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) jihadists are determined to pose a threat in the Kabul area and may attempt attacks against the airport. Taliban capture multiple US military biometrics devices that contain the biometric data of Afghans who supported American and coalition forces, known as HIIDE (Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment).
Passengers with valid travel documents for entry into the United States will be prioritized over those who do not have valid documents. The situation at the airport continues to be reported as chaotic and dangerous by both media and field sources. Afghan nationals continue to have difficulties passing through the several Taliban checkpoints. Both Taliban forces and U.S. troops have fired shots into the air at different times to control crowds. Evidence reported indicates inconsistent implementation of supposed Taliban policies. Multiple sources have told us that the Taliban’s possession of HIIDE’s biometric identification data poses a low threat to foreigners and a moderate threat to Afghan nationals.
The Taliban blocks the gates to the Kabul airport and assaults those seeking to get out. There are also first-hand reports of Taliban going door to door identifying individuals and detaining them or murdering them outright.
More than 1,000 Taliban fighters from Helmand and Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan are summoned to Kabul to take over security in the capital. Taliban’s central leadership has often been concentrated in Kandahar and in nearby Quetta, Baluchistan province, Pakistan. Resistance fighters in the area of the Panjshir Valley took control of Pul-e-Hesar district of Baghlan province. The Government of Uzbekistan does not appear sympathetic to Afghan refugees and returned 150 refugees to Afghanistan.
Military helicopters and special operations forces teams pick up several hundred US citizens and Afghan nationals from various parts of the city. The German military reportedly deploys two helicopters for the same purpose. The US Embassy in Kabul issues a Security Alert advising US citizens to avoid traveling to Hamid Karzai International Airport and to avoid airport gates due to “potential security threats outside the gates at the Kabul airport.” There is an acute cash shortage. Fighting was reported in Andarab, Deh Saleh, and Banu districts. So far, territorial gains by resistance fighters have not opened safe corridors for overland evacuations from Kabul.
Suspected Islamic State-Khorasan Province terrorist plots targeting evacuees have emerged. Taliban control the major border crossings, there are multiple reports of commercial traffic and individuals entering and exiting the country. Pakistan does appear to be accepting travelers at the present time. Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan surged troops to their side of the border in early July and conditions appear to be relatively stable. The Sher Khan Bandar border crossing, north of Kunduz, is the primary trade route into Tajikistan. This trade route is a lucrative source of income for the Taliban, making any long-term interruptions counter to the Taliban’s interest. Tajikistan has committed to support up to 100,000 Afghan refugees and has begun construction on refugee camps. Iran is not accepting Afghan refugees. Turkmenistan is not permitting commercial traffic to enter their country. Armed resistance to the Taliban appears to be gaining momentum in the north, and risks may increase over the short term on the route to and north of Kunduz.
U.S., UK and Australia warn citizens to stay away from airport gates due to susceptibility to a suicide bombing or armed assault. USDOS is advising AMCITS to register with the DOS and then wait for information on the location of a specific rally point where they would be picked up. The Pentagon reports that in the past 24 hours, 19,000 people were flown out of HKIA, bringing the total number to date to 88,000. One plane is reportedly departing every 39 minutes. Efforts underway to see who can take a role in keeping HKIA open after the Aug. 31 US withdrawal. The German envoy in Kabul has said the Taliban has guaranteed credentialed Afghans will be able to leave after 31 August. The existence of armed conflict in Parwan and Baghlan provinces threatens AH76 north toward Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
The Taliban and Northern Alliance agree to stop attacking each other. At least two explosions were reported at HKIA and nearby Hotel. Several were killed and injured, including American military members. The attack is claimed by the ISK. The explosion at the Abbey Gate at approximately 1815 Kabul Time has effectively shut down the air evacuation. Another reported explosion at Barons Hotel, and small arms fire. At least 13 US troops were injured and killed, as well as at least 90 Afghans. An estimated 120,000 refugees have been evacuated from Afghanistan. The Pakistan border crossings are clogged with people. Pakistan has set up a reception cell at Torkham to issue emergency visas.
Air evacuations are rapidly winding down; gates at HKIA are closed. Pakistan is not currently hospitable to refugees, even though refugee infrastructure is in place, but the UN may have some success changing policy in Islamabad. The UNHCR has said as many as 500,000 refugees could flee Afghanistan overland, and they are asking neighbors to keep their borders open. Three districts of Takhar and Badakhshan are now contested. ISKP presence predominantly in Nuristan, Laghman, and Kunar provinces, and one specific area of Ghazni province.
Additional TB checkpoints established outside the airport w/ reports TB are turning away large numbers from the airport. Drone strike on 27 Aug killed 2 high profile ISIS targets. US State Dept reports about 350 Americans still looking to leave Afg. Pentagon reports US Forces have begun retrograding from Kabul airport. The US is still in charge of airport and airport gates. TB spokesman claims TB are guarding parts of the airport. France and Britain will propose an emergency resolution on Monday 8/30 to create a safe zone in Kabul to protect people trying to leave the country. Banks operational with max of $200 every 24 hours. Civil servants protesting at banks saying they haven’t been paid in 3-6 months. The Taliban cannot access the central bank’s $9 billion in reserves, most of which is held by the New York Federal Reserve. The International Monetary Fund has also suspended the transfer of some $450 million. TB asks women doctors and health care workers to return to work.
Large explosion in a neighborhood northwest of HKIA. Initially reported as a stray rocket strike that hit a house, it was quickly confirmed as a US air strike against a vehicle containing one or more ISK suicide bombers. There are Reports of Taliban in Pakistan shooting Afghan refugees. A family, including 9 civilians killed in a secondary explosion this morning, following the strike on a VBIED. TB condemned the airstrike as a ‘clear attack on Afghan territory.’ International news coverage of a TB killing of a folk singer in the Andarabi Valley, north of Kabul near Panshir.
The government of Uzbekistan will not grant flight clearance to any plane that does not have an onward destination and clearances. The government of Uzbekistan will not allow Afghans without a valid Uzbek visa to stay in Uzbekistan during the long-term procession of US visa applications. The processing of these applications must take place outside of Uzbekistan. Refugees are crossing the Panj River into Tajikistan by raft/boat. The three districts of Badakhshan and Takhar that were reported then as “contested” are no longer marked as “contested” and are again marked as under Taliban control. Heavy fighting in Andarab district, and new resistance being reported in Kapisa province. ISK has claimed responsibility for the rocket attack directed against HKIA.
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