Australian Red Cross is experiencing rapidly increasing demand from people in Australia desperate to reach their relatives caught up in the Afghanistan crisis.
The impact of the recent political upheaval and the latest threat of suicide attacks in Kabul as people try to leave Afghanistan has heightened the distress felt by the Afghan community.
“We are getting calls from people distressed because they can't reach their loved ones. They are worried and searching for answers,” said Nicole Batch, Protection Manager at the Australian Red Cross.
The Red Cross Red Crescent movement operates a worldwide tracing service, called the Restoring Family Links (RFL) program, for people who have lost contact with family due to war, conflict or disasters.
Calls to the service have increased tenfold since the Taliban entered Kabul.
The Restoring Family Links team in Australia is working to assess cases coming in and to help people re-connect with lost relatives or family members.
Hostilities and instability this month [August] have left thousands of people displaced across Afghanistan, and left thousands more needing medical treatment at health facilities run by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“This is a hugely distressing time. Everyone in Australia should be sensitive to the fear and uncertainty this is causing, and support people in our communities who have friends or family in Afghanistan – they are living through this crisis,” Ms Batch said.
The Australian Red Cross Afghanistan Crisis appeal is raising funds for the work of the Restoring Family Links program, as well as critical healthcare and other humanitarian aid delivered by Red Cross and Red Crescent partners in Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan Red Crescent, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, and the ICRC remain in Afghanistan and will continue their lifesaving work across the country.
Donations can be made via redcross.org.au/Afghanistan or by phoning 1800 REDCROSS (1800 733 276)