Afghanistan One Year Later: NED’s Commitment to Afghan Partners

Afghan women and girls demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Education in Kabul on March 26, 2022, demanding that high schools be reopened for girls. (Photo by AHMAD SAHEL ARMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan one year ago, in August 2021, Afghans dedicated to a democratic future have faced a new level of danger. The regime has targeted civil society leaders, advocates of women’s rights, journalists, artists, and other activists, including partners of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“It’s personal,” said NED President and CEO Damon Wilson. “NED has provided support for hundreds of civil society groups and human rights defenders in Afghanistan since 1984, NED’s first year in existence. Given these relationships, we could not sit back and watch this crisis unfold without doing everything possible to help our partners.” 

Coordinating with the Center for International Private Enterprise, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute, NED mobilized an organization-wide emergency response to help partners inside the country, including securing emergency funding and evacuating over 1,016 grantees and their families to the United States, Canada, and other countries. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) program experts and other NED staff worked around the clock to field calls, collect data, rally our networks, translate documents, and navigate security concerns to evacuate our Afghan colleagues during extremely dangerous conditions.

“The Taliban stopped one of the NED-organized convoys, but we later brought those people to safety,” said Brian Joseph, vice president of programs at NED. “NED took a forward leaning, very high tolerance for risk approach to find solutions, mobilizing well before we had the authorizations. NED has never done anything like this evacuation before, and at the time, I wasn’t sure we could pull it off.”

At the same time, NED committed to maintaining a significant grants program supporting those who remain in Afghanistan. NED partners inside Afghanistan carry on their efforts to strengthen independent media, champion women’s rights, provide education for all children, and defend a democratic future for Afghanistan.

“Courageous individuals and organizations continue to risk everything to fight for an Afghanistan that respects civil liberties, human rights, and freedom for all people,” said NED’s Senior Director for MENA Amira Maaty. “NED remains committed to our Afghan partners inside the country and around the world.”

Coming Up

NED will underscore our commitment to Afghanistan during two upcoming events: convening partners who evacuated to Canada in Calgary on August 20; and on September 8, gathering partners who evacuated to the United States in Washington, D.C.

Read inspiring stories about NED’s Afghan partners