Cooperation Canada urges Canada and the international community to mobilize all the necessary resources to address the human rights crisis in Afghanistan. Following the expedited withdrawal of American and NATO forces after 20 years of military intervention in the country, the Taliban have swiftly taken over major cities across Afghanistan, resulting in the collapse of the Afghan Government. Civilians, including human rights defenders and humanitarian workers, who had supported Canadian and other international actors are now disproportionately targeted, with the safety and security of their families on the line.   

The people of Afghanistan have endured conflict for over four decades. Countless Afghan civilians, human rights defenders, humanitarians, diplomats, politicians, members of international militaries, and volunteers have lost their lives. The situation is deteriorating by the minute, with the local population abandoned as international actors evacuate the country.  

In this time of conflict and insecurity, many are fleeing the country and seeking asylum to ensure the basic safety of their families. Canada has committed to resettle 20,000 refugees and has also promised to evacuate Afghans who have worked alongside Canadians in Afghanistan. Among these, civil society leaders and human rights defenders must not be forgotten. Women’s rights activists and journalists, as well as their families, are facing a disproportionate safety risk – one that Canada as a feminist actor must address. 

After decades of interventions in Afghanistan, Canada and its NATO allies have a responsibility to contribute to a constructive resolution of this crisis, to preserve civilian lives, and uphold core human rights. Recognizing the very real constraints of this volatile crisis, we urge Canada, as a respected global actor, to support global coordination that prioritizes the lives of Afghan civilians whose safety and security are in the balance.