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UArizona still working to help Afghans escape

Still working in the absence of U.S. Military
Posted at 7:21 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 22:21:51-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The University of Arizona has not given up trying to help people escape Afghanistan---even though the U.S. Military is officially out of the country now. The University is using its international reach to try to rescue Afghans who have ties to UA.

Large universities often have contacts and connections that reach far from their campuses. University of Arizona has ties to people in Afghanistan who have worked with UA over the years.

When the Taliban takeover was imminent, UA was able to use contacts in the State Department and in Congress to help get ten adults and children to safety.

Julia Smith, UA’s Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations has been leading the effort from the University’s offices in Washington, DC. She’s still trying to get 30 other people out of Afghanistan but the effort has stalled since U.S. troops left the country.

She says now UA’s is working its contacts with organizations that still have operations in Afghanistan.

“We have built an incredible network through some higher ed associations of other universities, and through those networks we are communicating with private companies that are exploring options in country. We are having conversations with other countries that are currently housing Afghan refugees to see what resources they can put to bear as far as getting people out.”

The companies Smith is talking about are private military contractors.

“That have expertise in this type of work, and are sort of there they're doing the work now to get a sense of what the need is still in the country and the types of individuals that organizations and universities are trying to assist in evacuation.”

She says the University of Arizona could not hire the companies directly but others might be able to help, while UA works on matters like lining up visas and making resettlement plans.

She says other nearby countries have been very helpful. Qatar, for example, has allowed flights from Afghanistan and helped shelter refugees while they prepare for the rest of their journey.