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08/18/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)The government of Afghanistan crumbled faster than anyone expected, though many raised concerns over the fragility of the U.S.-backed government in the face of growing Taliban opposition and lessening U.S. support. Now, with the government gone, analysts will debate for years why the United States’ experiment in Afghanistan collapsed so spectacularly and what could have been done to exit more gracefully. 

But amid the debate and confusion, one thing is clear—the international community is struggling to develop a plan to protect the at-risk communities of Afghanistan, both religious and non-religious. Women, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and others are under threat by the Taliban. The solution is a full-scale airlift of these communities to friendlier and more enlightened areas of the world where religious pluralism is valued and minority rights are respected.  

The Afghan Christian community represents a very small fraction of Afghanistan’s population and is mostly composed of Muslim-background believers who are considered apostates by the Taliban. As a result, these Christians are in grave danger of being targeted and murdered by the Taliban in the coming days. Christians do not exist as an official religious community in Afghanistan but function in a very discreet manner as a network of house churches. Most keep their religious identity secret for fear of being targeted by the Taliban and other radical elements within the country who consider apostasy—turning from Islam to another religion—punishable by death.  

The situation for Christians and other at-risk communities is dire and worsening by the hour.   

What can concerned governments around the world do? 

First, the United States and its allies must work together to maintain pressure on the Taliban to ensure that human rights abuses do not continue in Afghanistan. The international press must cover these developments closely and ensure robust and accurate reporting on the developing situation.  

Second, free countries must accept refugees from Afghanistan. The situation is growing worse by the hour, with reports of the Taliban gathering names of individuals, including members of various faith communities, former government workers, and individuals who worked for the allied forces during the war. Reports of Christians receiving threatening phone calls are beginning to surface, and individuals fleeing to the airport are being beaten by Taliban fighters. While Taliban leaders are calling for respect, the reality on the ground is far from respectful of minority rights.  

Finally, the international community must coordinate an airlift of at-risk communities. The airlift must include communities of faith and individuals who supported the U.S. and NATO forces during the war. The U.S. must facilitate the safe and orderly departure of these individuals seeking to leave the country. The U.S. has issued strong warnings to the Taliban in case they attack U.S. personnel, but the same fervor must also protect the at-risk communities of Afghanistan. 

The Taliban’s newfound power demands swift, coordinated humanitarian responses from the United States and its allies. The war may be over, but the world now finds itself in a final battle for those who stood by the United States and NATO allies. This battle must be won to ensure that not all efforts were in vain and that even now, at the eleventh hour of the 20-year war, the United States will stand for the oppressed and persecuted and rise to the occasion to save those in need.