NYC group steps up to help women amid crisis in Afghanistan

Inside a basement office in Fresh Meadows, Queens, all eyes are on Afghanistan.

"It's as grim as can be and I'm a very, very positive person but I can't find a positive spin," said Sunita Viswanath, the co-founder and board chair of the human rights organization Women for Afghan Women.

In recent months as the Taliban gained ground, Viswanath's organization helped families evacuate from various provinces to the capital city of Kabul where they are now hiding out.

"They are just hiding out — the city is, from what I'm hearing from our colleagues, just chaotic and anarchy," she said. "They're shooting in the streets, there's fighting, there's looting."

As the Afghan government crumbled seemingly within days, concerns have swirled over what will happen to women and girls, who under previous Taliban rule were barred from going to school or working and couldn't even walk the streets without male chaperones.

The Taliban is saying publicly they now will allow women to be educated and have freedoms, but it is a promise few feel will be fulfilled.

RELATED: Taliban vows women's rights, security under Islamic rule of Afghanistan

"In which province can a girl go to school? Can a woman work? All of this we will find out soon enough, it's speculation at this point," Viswanath said. "What we need to do as an organization is wait and focus on the urgency."

As for evacuating Women for Afghan Women's clients to safety, she said that's the goal — eventually.

"That's not where people's minds are," she said. "They are literally just focused on staying alive."

Women for Afghan Women has seen an uptick in donations in the last couple of days. But the group needs every dollar they can get, Viswanath said. Right now, funds are going to help their clients in Afghanistan stay safe and fed but the group will also need resources to help refugees get settled in New York when they do get here.

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