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Resources and calls to action in support of scholars in Afghanistan

August 18, 2021
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SFU is home to a community of students, faculty and staff who come from all around the world, bringing important knowledge and ideas with them. SFU community members with ties to Afghanistan may be struggling with grief and pain, and others may be wondering how to help.  

In addition to the personal toll the current situation may have, as an institution of learning, SFU is invested in protecting the rights of scholars worldwide. The right to academic freedom and the right of women to receive an education have historically been threatened by Taliban forces, and Afghan scholars and students are worried about what this development could mean for their future.

Please keep reading to learn more about the resources and supports available to members of our community, as well as ways that SFU is working to support scholars in Afghanistan—and how you can help. 

This list was developed in consultation with SFU International and International Services for Students. If you would like to suggest additions to this page, please send your suggestions to edi@sfu.ca

Supports and mental health resources

Support is available. Please reach out if you need help.

SFU resources

  • My SSP: SFU students can access free 24/7 mental health support through the My SSP app. Culturally relevant support options are available; you can request to speak to a counsellor who shares your language and/or racial identity. 
  • See a Counsellor (to schedule a counselling session) or an Access Case Manager (to talk directly to a support professional on how to navigate resources): free, confidential supports are available to all registered SFU students.
  • Connect with a chaplain: The SFU Multifaith Centre has chaplains from various faith backgrounds available for one-on-one conversations and support.
  • Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP): the SFU Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provides confidential, professional assistance to help SFU employees and their family members resolve problems that affect your personal and work lives.
  • Critical Incident Support: A Critical Incident (or Significant Event) is normally a traumatic event that creates a strong emotional reaction. This reaction may interfere with an individual’s ability to manage normal day-to-day activities or have a large negative impact on the people involved or community members that have in some way been involved. Learn about the supports available.

Federal resources

Canada is implementing special immigration measures for Afghan nationals. See more about the programs here. To see if you are eligible, follow the instructions in the link and write to: Canada-Afghanistan@international.gc.ca

Individuals are also encouraged to reach out for consular assistance through the Emergency Watch Centre:

Calls to action 

SFU is supporting Afghan scholars fleeing persecution by identifying opportunities and funding for them to teach, research and study at SFU. This is being done through strong partnerships and programs such as those with Scholars at Risk and the WUSC Student Refugee Program, as well as support and leadership from community partners.

Thank you to the faculties and departments across the university who have allocated nearly $250,000 in funding to host visiting scholars from Afghanistan at SFU. However, more funding is still needed for these scholars to be able to safely and comfortably relocate to Canada. 

All donations collected through our partnership with Scholars at Risk will go directly to scholars, helping to cover costs including support for resettlement in Canada, plane tickets, funding for additional family members traveling with the scholars, mental health and health care, research materials and more.

If you know a scholar from Afghanistan or are aware of an opportunity for an Afghan scholar to join the SFU community, contact Gretchen Ferguson, Director, Global Engagement, SFU International.  

To learn more about Scholars at Risk or to make a donation, visit give.sfu.ca/scholars-at-risk.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following information has been compiled and provided by SFU International. If you have any questions about the below content, please contact Victoria Lam at international_development@sfu.ca.

Hosting a Scholar from Afghanistan

What kind of positions should we offer to at-risk scholars from Afghanistan?

We are looking for any kind of research or teaching opportunities at SFU – Research Assistants, Postdoctoral Fellow, Visiting Research Students, Visiting Scholar positions and more.

Who is considered a Scholar under this program?

A scholar for the purposes of this program refers to people who have research and/or teaching experience at the postsecondary level, and who have at least a bachelor degree but normally a graduate degree.

Who do I contact if my Faculty or I can host a Visiting Scholar, Postdoctoral Fellow, Visiting Research Student, or Research Assistant?

Please contact Gretchen Ferguson, Director Global Engagement, SFU International, gretchen_ferguson@sfu.ca.

Do I need to provide funding to host a scholar?

Funding is welcome, appreciated and much needed, but it is not required to be able to host. Please indicate how much funding you can contribute and /or how much funding is needed for the position.

How will the positions be funded?

The positions will be funded through various sources. Faculties interested in hosting a Visiting Scholar are encouraged to identify any funding that they can contribute. Faculty members with research grants are asked to contribute to Research Assistant positions if possible. At the same time, a fundraising page has been set up at SFU to support Scholars at Risk here.

What happens next?

Once a position is identified, SFU International will ask Scholars At Risk to provide a list of candidates who are potential matches, share these with the host faculty or department and facilitate the hiring process.

I have heard that people are not able to get out of Afghanistan right now. How will providing a position at SFU help them if they can’t leave the country?

This is a very real concern. Right now, we are working to line up opportunities and funding to have them ready for people who are in a safe third country, or who get to a safe third country, or to provide a letter of employment to help them to leave Afghanistan. At the same time, there are people in the post- secondary community in Canada who are liaising with the government to press for clear visa pathways for refugees, including scholars and students, and for more evacuations. Both forms of action are important.

Supporting your family members, colleagues and friends

What do I do if I know someone in Afghanistan who needs immediate assistance?

SFU and Scholars at Risk are not able to help with evacuation requests, nor provide information about visas. Please refer to the following information provided by the Canadian government:

Canada is implementing special immigration measures for Afghan nationals. To see if you (or your friend/ family member) are eligible follow the instructions in this link here.

You may also write for more info to: Canada-Afghanistan@international.gc.ca

Individuals are also encouraged to reach out for consular assistance through the Emergency Watch Centre:

011 613-986-8885
sos@international.gc.ca
SMS: 613-686-3658

Please see these additional resources from MOSAIC for Afghans in the community wanting to know how to help their family in danger in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

MOSAIC welcomes clients to refer themselves for services, or referrals from other agencies: see https://www.mosaicbc.org/services/settlement/refugees/support-afghan-refugees/ and refer clients to: SAH@mosaicbc.org.

To ensure that members of the community have clear, up-to-date information. MOSAIC, the CCR (Canadian Council for Refugees) and VAST (Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture) are hosting two virtual information sharing sessions for members of the Afghan community in the Metro Vancouver area.

Together the session will explore:

  • Canada's Special Resettlement Program for Afghans (limitations, eligibility, process)
  • Refugee claimant hearing updates
  • Family reunification guidelines
  • Local resources, updates and discussion.

Registration is required by 12:00pm on Monday August 30, so please circulate the registration links below with members in your network who may benefit.

  • Virtual Information Sharing Session Afghanistan Refugee Situation (Pashtu Interpretation): August 31 at 6 PM – 8 PM PST. Please register here.
  • Virtual Information Sharing Session Afghanistan Refugee Situation (Farsi/Dari Interpretation): September 1 at 6 PM – 8 PM PST. Please register here.

What do I do if I know someone in Afghanistan who is a Scholar and is worried about their security or safety?

For evacuation requests, please refer to the information from the Canadian government (above).

To apply to Scholars at Risk for opportunities in universities outside of Afghanistan, please refer to the section on “Assistance for Scholars” (above).

How can I contribute to fundraising to support Scholars at Risk?

SFU has set up a fundraising page to support Scholars at Risk here.

All funds raised will go directly to support threatened scholars from Afghanistan.

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