IsraAID Coordinates Evacuation of 167 Vulnerable Afghan Nationals

Global collaborative effort leads to safe evacuation of judges, singers, activists, journalists, scientists and cyclists

Wednesday 13 October 2021. For immediate release:

On Saturday 2nd October, 125 vulnerable Afghans, including judges, cyclists, journalists, TV presenters, human rights activists, family members of Afghan diplomats, artists, law enforcement officers, scientists, and more, arrived in Albania after being evacuated from Afghanistan to a neighboring country following a weeks-long collaborative humanitarian effort from governments, aid organizations, activists, and donors. This complicated process was initiated and led by activists and facilitated by the non-governmental Israeli aid organization IsraAID.

This is the second evacuation from Afghanistan the group has coordinated, following the arrival of 42 vulnerable women, girls, and family members to the UAE on September 6th.

Those evacuated are considered particularly vulnerable under Taliban rule, and many of the women and girls among them have served as symbols of female empowerment and leadership. After escaping Afghanistan, they were granted safe passage through a neighboring country to the UAE and Albania, before long-term resettlement in countries including Canada, France, and Switzerland.

IsraAID has also launched an initial needs assessment mission to Albania, where the group of 125 evacuees join more than 1,000 Afghan refugees currently in the country. IsraAID’s team will assess access to crucial services and plan to provide ongoing assistance to Afghan refugees while they stay in Albania.

IsraAID’s CEO, Yotam Polizer, said:

At IsraAID, we respond to humanitarian crisis worldwide, including working to facilitate refugee integration around the world. We stand together with our partners and team members who worked tirelessly on the ground to make this happen. After an intense and difficult process over the past several weeks, with the situation constantly changing and new plans being built on an almost-daily basis, we are delighted to be able to say that our main focus right now is on ensuring the evacuees have everything they need while they begin the process of building new lives for themselves. We are committed to supporting both of these groups for the long-term.

“We would like to thank the governments of Albania and the United Arab Emirates for their hospitality and willingness to provide safe passage to these vulnerable people out of Afghanistan, and to the governments worldwide who have prioritized them for resettlement.

“We would also like to thank a number of parties who have been crucial to this effort, including the group of strong women activists from around the world led by journalist Danna Harman, who initiated this operation, international NGO Team HumanitySylvan Adams, an anonymous family foundationAaron G. Frenkel, Chairman of the Euro Asian Jewish Congress, Alexander Mashkevich, Honarary President of the Euro Asian Jewish Congress, CIJA – the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Union Cycliste Internationale President David Lappartient, and Len Blavatnik. Their generosity, networks, and commitment to ensuring these brave Afghan leaders have the bright future they deserve, have made this possible.

Philanthropist Sylvan Adams said:

“What we did in this operation to extract and resettle these Afghan women was simply practicing the ancient Jewish cultural imperative of ‘Tikkun Olam’, which means improving our world. I am gratified to have helped change the fate of our group of Afghan women cyclists, and to offer them a chance at a normal, productive, happy life.”

Danna Harman, who initiated this operation, gathering a group of friends who became activists, working together to rescue these vulnerable women and girls, said:

If there is a bright spot in the story of Afghanistan’s latest crisis, it would be how many regular people, Afghans and those who care about Afghanistan alike, came together to respond to calls for help.

None of us know what life in Afghanistan will look like now, and it is not for us to judge who is in graver or lesser danger. But, I believe, it behooves us all to listen to and respect anyone’s cry for help, and, moreover, if we can, reach out our hands to assist.

I would like to thank my girlfriends who dropped everything and jumped on board this journey, especially Charlene Seidle and Roni Aboulafia, and to thank the women and girls themselves, who got everything started, and are the biggest heroes of it all.”

IsraAID’s Emergency Fund ensures the organization can provide an urgent and immediate response to crises around the world. Donations to support IsraAID’s response to future crises can be made here.



Ethan Schwartz
Email: [email protected]


Photographs from the evacuation are available here.