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IU assists, advocates for Afghans at risk

Indiana University has been closely monitoring the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.

IU is the academic home of Afghan students, staff and faculty members. In addition, we have been engaged over the years with local partners in Afghanistan on U.S. government-funded projects in areas including teacher education and international business.

We are deeply concerned about the safety and security not only of the many Afghan colleagues with ties to IU, but of all who are facing the terrible risks now confronting students, scholars and activists in Afghanistan. We have been assisting and advocating for those at risk.

The university reached out to current Afghan students and scholars to determine their safety and have worked to ensure that all members of the community receive the maximum support IU can provide.

On Aug. 2, the U.S. State Department announced a Priority 2 (P-2) designation under which certain Afghan nationals, and their eligible family members, could obtain priority designation for refugee status. The criteria are narrow, but several IU departments were able to provide letters of referral to assist in getting eligible individuals into that program.

IU’s Office of the Vice President for International Affairs and Office of Government Relations have been coordinating with Indiana’s congressional delegation and with contacts in the State Department to support their applications for emergency visas.

In addition, IU has joined other universities in an appeal to Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the urgent need to assist scholars, students and civil society leaders at risk in Afghanistan, both through ongoing evacuation efforts and through an expansion of the Priority 2 designation that would allow more students and scholars to qualify for resettlement.

Efforts to establish land routes for Afghans fleeing the country are underway. IU is a host partner for the Scholar Rescue Fund, administered by the Institute for International Education, and a member of the Scholars at Risk Network, both of which offer assistance to threatened scholars. We have hosted scholars under these programs previously and hope to offer placements on our campuses to Afghan scholars.

We stand in solidarity with our students, scholars and community members who are affected by this crisis.

Hannah Buxbaum is IU vice president for international affairs.