Afghan family walks in airport
A family evacuated from Afghanistan is led through the arrival terminal at Dulles International Airport in the Washington area to board a bus that will take them to a refugee processing center, Aug. 25, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Anna Moneymaker-Getty Images)

JFCS East Bay aids quake-stricken local Afghan families

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Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay is offering support for local Afghan refugees whose families have been affected by last week’s devastating earthquake.

The 5.9 magnitude quake hit eastern Afghanistan on June 22, killing over 1,000 people, including more than 150 children, and displacing thousands more. Upwards of 1,600 injuries have been reported.

JFCS East Bay — a social service nonprofit that has resettled approximately 700 Afghan refugees in the Bay Area since the withdrawal of American troops and the fall of Kabul in August 2021 — helps the displaced find housing, obtain benefits and orient themselves culturally to their new home, said director of refugee services Fouzia Azizi.

Many of the refugees still have family living in Afghanistan.

“The situation is impacting all of our clients that recently arrived,” Azizi said. “The whole process has been so challenging, and this is kind of another chaotic situation on top of the already challenging situation back home.”

RELATED: Afghan refugee family starts new life in East Bay, with help of JFCS

Many of the refugees are unable to return home due to their status as humanitarian parolees — a designation for specific individuals deemed in need of rapid evacuation and relocation — making it all but impossible for them to help their families. One of Azizi’s clients is a man whose wife and children are still in the affected region. He was able to contact his family and confirm that they were safe.

“So many people have been displaced,” Azizi said. “The sorrow, the trauma, the chaos around it are what they are experiencing, and what they are witnessing.”

The earthquake impacted some of the most rural and remote areas of the country, including the villages of Bermal, Ziruk, Nika and Gayan in the Paktika province. The region, a mountainous area that serves as a border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been a war zone for many years, Azizi noted.

The best way to help those in the Bay Area affected by the earthquake is to pay attention, Azizi said. The refugee community is in need of more counselors, translators and resources as media attention on Afghanistan has dwindled in recent months.

“After the evacuation process and everything, it looks like this is now a kind of forgotten population,” Azizi stated. “But the needs are still there.”

To donate to JFCS East Bay, click here.

Lillian Ilsley-Greene
Lillian Ilsley-Greene

Lillian Ilsley-Greene was a staff writer at J. from 2022-2023.