Where can one donate to Iraqi and Afghan victims of violence?
April 24, 2013 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Are there any organizations I can donate to or help with that are devoted to cleaning up the messes we made in Afghanistan and Iraq? I keep seeing news of American and allied bombings accidentally killing children and civilians, and it seems like all these require something more than just an "oopsie!" or indifferent silence.

The guy in whose boat the surviving Boston bomber was found has gotten $10,000 over the past few days and keeps getting more even though he doesn't want it. There's been a massive outpouring of sympathy for the 3 dead and 100+ wounded in Boston.

I'm curious to find out how I can get involved in whatever similar efforts there are for the dozens of civilians killed and many more wounded in Afghanistan by American bullets and bombs. Yes, when American forces kill civilians it's almost always an accident, and the Taliban, Iraqi insurgents, and terrorists usually do it on purpose. But I think we're supposed to be the good guys.

An American photographer in Afghanistan talked to local Afghans about the Boston attack and they showed sympathy, sharing the pain. What can I do to send the same type of message back?

It seems like Americans have very little connection to Afghans and Iraqis. Is there some way to get an Afghan pen pal?

How can one ensure that money donated for a good cause in Iraq or Afghanistan doesn't go to the wrong place? For example, a recent airstrike on a Taliban commander killed him and six other Talibanis--but also killed 16 civilians, 12 of them children. So though I have a lot of sympathy for the fact that we just killed a bunch of civilians and kids, money going to that family would be money going to the Taliban. Yet the bombing calls for some kind of balancing positive effort on America's part.

There's comments in the opinion section of newspapers in my area of the US that say that Muslims should do more to denounce terrorism. How can we make it clearer to Afghans, Iraqis, and others who may be radicalized by the killing of civilians that we denounce the killing of civilians?

What can we say, apart from "Hey man, sorry my country wrecked your country"?
posted by Sleeper to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
One idea is to support anti-war politicians, and anti-war civil-society movements like Code Pink.
posted by grobstein at 7:33 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Doctors Without Borders works in Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other countries. You can earmark donations for a specific country if you wish.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:37 AM on April 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Regarding communication with Afghans, I would recommend any of the language exchange sites such as LiveMocha or italki. They have very large communities of people from all over the world. You will meet Afghans and Iraqis there and you can easily begin a pen pal relationship.

This appears to have a list of a number of charities and other organizations that do relief work in Afghanistan.

And, since I am a language enthusiast, if you take up communications with Afghans through a language exchange site, you might want to start working on your Dari or Pashto. There is nothing like speaking to someone in their own language if you want to speak to their heart. (they are both Indo-European language - you can do it!)
posted by Tanizaki at 7:37 AM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Those who are often most affected are the children. There are several ways to take action.
posted by adamvasco at 11:26 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

You will definitely want to see the documentary Beyond Belief [imdb], whose filmmakers were responsible for the photographs you saw. I think an approach that is very personal, as in that case, has some value, although this is already a less personal thing for yourself.
posted by dhartung at 2:55 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend MADRE. They currently have 1 project in Afghanistan (Afghan Women's Survival Fund) and 2 projects in Iraq (Underground Railroad for Iraqi Women, Helping Families Overcome the Legacies of War. As they partner with local organizations in each country, MADRE does an amazing job of actually reaching those in greatest need.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:30 PM on April 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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