Resources and calls to action in support of scholars in Afghanistan

August 18, 2021

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

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

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 more than $350,000 in funding to host visiting scholars from Afghanistan at SFU and to generous community members who have donated more than $110,000. However, more funding is still needed for these scholars to be able to safely and comfortably relocate to Canada. 

A donation to support threatened scholars and students will cover salary, benefits, professional development, and settlement costs for at risk scholars OR tuition, books, living costs, and settlement expenses for vulnerable students. It also prepares us to provide support in other critical ways—from mental health and health care services to relocation costs and support for family members.

To learn more about how to support scholars and students or to make a donation, visit

Frequently Asked Questions

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. For more information, please visit these links: 

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.

What should scholars in Afghanistan do if their employment, safety, or freedom are threatened?

Scholars in Afghanistan who fear for their safety can apply directly to Scholars at Risk through this encrypted link:

If they need help to fill in their application, or do not have Internet access, please contact Scholars at Risk for options.

What support does SFU provide related to immigration?

SFU is not able to provide advice on immigration pathways open to people trying to leave Afghanistan. However, we can provide information on student-related visas and temporary work visas for through the following offices: 

International Services for Students:  The team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants in ISS provide support on study permits, entry visas and work permits for all international undergraduate and graduate students at SFU.

Faculty Relations:  A regulated Immigration Advisor provides advice and helps with the application process for temporary work visas for Visiting Scholars and Postdoctoral Fellows who have confirmed offers of employment from an SFU Faculty.

Can SFU do anything to help get people out of Afghanistan safely?

We, along with other Canadian universities, are asking the Canadian government to prioritize scholars and scholars at risk as the pathways out start to become clearer. We are also working with our immigration counterparts at other universities to share information.

Can SFU advise on refugee pathways?

Unfortunately, refugee law is beyond our scope of expertise. While we know links are frustrating in such a desperate situation, the Canadian government has outlined their response in a centralized way and this is likely the best source of info as things are changing so rapidly. 

Here are some links to IRCC information:

For assistance by legal volunteers, see also:

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