Update on USAID’s Afghanistan Response: Note from Administrator Powell

Update on USAID’s Afghanistan Response

Dear Colleagues,

After several months of steady, round-the-clock effort, I wanted to share an update regarding our colleagues who were serving in Afghanistan.

As we heard in wrenching detail during our Town Hall in September 2021, the experience our Afghan colleagues have faced during their evacuation and resettlement has been grueling. But through tireless efforts by the USAID family, including dedicated teams, volunteers, and even our network of alumni, we have brought forward significant resources to support our colleagues and their families as they transition to a new life here in the United States. Nearly 95 percent of our Afghan Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs) are now here in America. A large majority are already being resettled into welcoming communities across the country and some remain temporarily at one of the U.S. Safe Havens as they make their way through the immigration process.

Many of you have asked what you can do to help resettle our colleagues. I am pleased to share that our colleagues at the Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration have partnered with the Community Sponsorship Hub to welcome Afghans into communities through the Sponsor Circle Program. Locally formed sponsor groups can help give Afghan families a warm welcome to their new communities, and this program gives Afghans more opportunities to settle where they wish. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please email afg_fsn_supportwg@usaid.gov.

At USAID, we have a dedicated team from both the Mission and headquarters, who are in constant contact with our Afghan colleagues, offering them support and guidance as they resettle. Several USAID staff members are also detailed to the Department of State’s Coordinator for Afghanistan Relocation Efforts to assist with refugee relocation. Since August, we have deployed more than 75 USAID staff to serve at various U.S. bases. I want to thank those who gave their time to this vital effort, as well as the supervisors who supported them. I’d like to encourage continued support for those who wish to pursue these efforts as a temporary duty activity.

The last day of employment with USAID for our FSNs that left Afghanistan was November 29, 2021. Our cross-bureau FSN Working Group is working with the USAID Alumni Association and the USAID FSN Advocacy Council to assist our colleagues in finding employment both within the Agency and outside of it. These supporters are offering resume-building training, helping hone interviewing skills, and providing networking support. We are providing our Afghan colleagues access to a package of supplementary support through Staff Care, including Pashto- and Dari-language counseling, resettlement support, health care advocacy services, and assistance with work-life issues for all USAID/Afghanistan FSNs and their eligible family members.

Our USAID/Afghanistan Mission continues to operate outside of Afghanistan, engaging with donors and implementing partners as well as interagency colleagues in managing a limited but ongoing development assistance portfolio. Twelve members of our team are based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on 90-day temporary duty assignments, facilitated by the Government of Kazakhstan. I am grateful to our USAID/Central Asia Regional Mission in Kazakhstan for providing a temporary home to USAID/Afghanistan staff.

Our Afghanistan Mission Director, Peter Duffy, and our Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) Deputy Leader for Coordination, Courtney Blake, are in Doha, Qatar, representing USAID in the Department of State’s Afghanistan Affairs Unit. Our Third Country National colleagues are working across three continents, and their ongoing commitment remains crucial to our Afghanistan operations. We appreciate everyone’s extraordinary efforts to support the Afghanistan Mission and our Afghan colleagues—your partnership in this time of personal upheaval, uncertainty, and transition is critical.

USAID’s DART team is based out of the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance regional offices in Bangkok, Thailand, and continues to lead the U.S. government’s humanitarian response in Afghanistan with support from our D.C.-based Response Management Team. All of USAID’s humanitarian partners remain operational and continue to provide lifesaving assistance across the country with a focus on emergency food assistance, nutrition, health care, protection, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene support, among other urgently needed relief activities. USAID remains committed to the principled delivery of humanitarian assistance and continues to press de facto authorities for an inclusive government that promotes human rights for the people of Afghanistan, including by upholding women’s rights and allowing women and girls to work and attend school.

These remain difficult times both for our Afghan colleagues and the people of Afghanistan. But, I am proud of the dedication and steadfast commitment this Agency continues to show to help our fellow colleagues during the times they need us most. I would also like to thank the many USAID employees who have served and continue to serve in support of our Afghan colleagues and allies. Your collective efforts exemplify the values of USAID and the American people.

Thank you.

Administrator Samantha Power