A year ago the Taliban entered Kabul to take back the reins of power in Afghanistan. After nearly twenty years out of power, the Taliban was back to write a new chapter and perhaps tear out recent progressive ones. The events stirred fear in the hearts of many and prompted thousands to flee.

In the year since these events, it is essential for the world to ask what is the current state of affairs in Afghanistan? We must also ask how those refugees who fled Afghanistan are coping with the enormous obstacles of transitioning into new global communities.

The political rhetoric at the time was that the vulnerable of Afghanistan and those who escaped would not be forgotten. We need to ensure this promise remains unbroken, and that policy leaders and the media who have so many distractions maintain a serious level of support and coverage.

The Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace, and Security has been on the forefront of keeping Afghanistan in the foreign policy consciousness and ensuring we stay focused on vulnerable women and girls. The Institute produced The Onward for Afghan Women Initiative, an initiative which asked Afghan women leaders to reflect on the state of affairs in Afghanistan. The comments were powerful and inspiring.

One of the people interviewed was a motivating women leader. She wrote, “I found great resilience in our nation. Afghan activists and international friends relentlessly have been raising their voices against any dehumanised actions from the Taliban which brings hope to me that we are not forgotten.”

One enormous challenge for the world to remain focused on in Afghanistan is the education of girls. Progress was being made, but there has been a reversal. UNICEF says approximately 850,000 Afghan girls have stopped receiving secondary education. The women and girls in Afghanistan who still find ways to educate themselves even while under the ignominious banner of persecution are some of the most valiant souls on earth. The education of girls globally must be a foreign policy priority in Afghanistan and elsewhere. If countries or governing entities are not educating and empowering girls, they should be isolated.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is dire. Aid had been at historic highs and the sheer amount of assistance from the US and the wider global community was having a genuine impact on people’s lives and the strength of the social fabric. While aid movements are imperfect, and there was evidence of waste and corruption, international assistance was providing both a safety net and a springboard to sustainable growth for millions. With the departure of various international governments and aid officials as a result of new Afghanistan leadership, assistance has dipped precipitously.

Markus Potzel, UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan, said recently, “It is beyond time for all Afghans to be able to live in peace and rebuild their lives after 20 years of armed conflict. Our monitoring reveals that despite the improved security situation since 15 August 2021, the people of Afghanistan, in particular women and girls, are deprived of the full enjoyment of their human rights.”

Since August of last year, the US Department of Homeland Security has resettled more than 80,000 Afghan refugees in the US. The UK took in over 12,000 and Scotland has embraced a significant number. These refugees have courageously moved into embracing their new reality. The children have been particularly resilient, though the path has been arduous. Refugee and resettlement organisations have been pressed to meet needs especially when we factor in the refugee crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine and also Syria.

As you ponder ways you may help at this one-year mark in Afghanistan, one approach is to give financially to a refugee organisation. For the Scottish readership, I recommend the Scottish Refugee Council. Their work has been extraordinary. You may also support Save the Children UK or Mercy Corps Europe.

Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, once wrote, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” As we witness global hardship, the wounds of innocent victims become our own. A light of sympathy enters us and careens within, then hopefully a candle of giving burns bright. Let’s continue to write our quiet history as being counted among those who believe in uplifting all.

Ian Houston is president of the Scottish Business Network in the US. He is an honorary professor at the University of the West of Scotland and honorary lecturer at Aberdeen University. Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.