Afghan American activist helped thousands who were trying to flee Afghanistan

Arash Azizzada, a co-founder of Afghan activist groups in the U.S., says his organization worked around the clock to help citizens who wanted to flee the country after the Taliban declared victory.

Video transcript

ARASH AZIZZADA: I would say the past two plus weeks have been the most hectic in our collective personal lives. And I say that as an Afghan-American community organizer. But I think that's particularly true for a lot of folks in the Afghan diaspora. We've had to come together as a collective-- us in the Afghan diaspora, us in the private sector, veterans, volunteers, human rights activists, community organizers-- to figure out how to evacuate and get our loved ones and friends to safety and figure out a way to evacuate them. This has meant trying to figure out which Taliban checkpoints to avoid, as well as which gate is even accessible at the airport, figuring out what the immigration process looks like, and coming up to speed on the red tape that exists and the items that prohibit people from applying for asylum, whether it's in the United States, Canada, or in Europe.

But I think the only tools at my disposal were-- I had no resources. And the only tools at my disposal were my phone and my laptop and an internet connection. And that's what-- those were the things that we all, I think, used to do what we were trying to do. We're still getting messages from many, many people who feel left behind and abandoned, so just as a reflection of how many people we were able to help.

The kind of feeling that we're getting from folks on the ground, from conversations we had this morning is that people are increasingly hopeless, increasingly fearful of the Taliban. They feel abandoned by the West and the international community. The streets are empty. The banks have very little cash.

There is an impending-- there is both an economic crisis and a humanitarian disaster that is currently unfolding that will affect 38 million people. And those roughly 38 million people are afraid that the world's spotlight will soon move on from them and that they will be left to fend off for themselves under a repressive Taliban regime. And I think many, many people are fearful of what's going to come next.