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‘Then, We Lost Everything:’ Afghan Evacuee Experiences of Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome

April 4, 2023

Then, We Lost Everything

A new report released by the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies and the Refugee Dream Center titled, "‘Then, We Lost Everything:’ Afghan Evacuee Experiences of Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome" draws on 32 interviews with Afghan evacuees who experienced both OAR and OAW and have resettled in Providence, Rhode Island.

On 30 August 2021, the last US military plane departed Kabul ahead of President Biden’s 31 August deadline to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. The humanitarian evacuation of Afghan citizens that took place during the weeks leading up to this event - dubbed Operation Allies Refuge (OAR) - marked the end of the US’s 20-year military presence in the country and represents the largest non-combat airlift in US history. It also opens a new, complicated, and uncertain chapter for the Afghan evacuees as well as for their receiving nations.

As the number and scale of complex humanitarian emergencies worldwide continues to grow, so too does the need for increased coordination between civilian and military actors. It is critical to understand the perceptions and experiences of this type of coordination from the crisis-affected communities themselves to gain novel insights. This report examines OAR and Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) from the perspectives of those most affected - the Afghan evacuees themselves. This research is structured around two overarching questions:

1) What are the experiences and perceptions held by Afghan evacuees during Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome?

2) What are the immediate and long term needs within the Afghan evacuee population resettling in Rhode Island?