Opinion: Private philanthropy helps, but does not end the refugee crisis

American philanthropist Amed Khan rescued refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine, but he knows that is not enough.

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Amed Khan, wearing a blue talk with the Olympic logo, sat in a bunker somewhere in Ukraine and looked like a refugee himself.

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I was relieved to see him. He was unable to join the video call scheduled the day before. His assistant said Khan would never do that.

Fortunately, it was only an internet problem that kept him away.

“It’s an absolute misery here,” he said. “The devastation is terrible.”

American philanthropists are war zone experts who evacuate vulnerable people from the world’s most dangerous places and help them resettle.

Kahn is a hero of hundreds of Afghan refugees, including 205 female parliamentarians and judges who have been allowed to settle here by Canada. They were one of many advocates of human rights and democracy, former employees abandoned by Western nations after the fall of Kabul.

Kahn organized their evacuation. Ukrainian special forces went to Afghanistan’s home on his list, including former Canadian Army employees and interpreters. They passed checkpoints, passed through the chaotic Kabul airport, and extracted them to charter planes.

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“(Ukrainian President Volodimir) Zarensky said at the time that he believed in democracy and it was important to help them,” Khan said. “He signaled who he was and at the same time warned about the Russians. Most Western leaders were not paying attention.”

Since then, Khan has been a “evangelist” of the Ukrainian government with a very strong support for democracy. “That’s them. It’s a shame that the world is just finding it now.”

He is currently evacuating on the ground and delivering medicines. He also supports the government — “what I can’t really talk about.”

In the last three weeks, Khan has traveled to and from Ukraine at least five times, visiting cities and remote areas. He arranged for the evacuation of children from the orphanage.

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And ironically?

“Some of the Afghans we evacuated are here and need to evacuate again.”

chaos. panic. It’s sad. Crushing the soul. It’s a way to explain what he sees and hears when the Ukrainians are struggling with his life-changing decision to stay or go.

He also called from Greek Afghans about why Canada’s paperwork is taking so long and from some of the eight families who arrived in Canada on Thursday.

In September, when Iranian officials threatened to prevent Khan from boarding a chartered plane to take them to Greece, Homaira Ayubi, her family, and seven other lawmakers and their families, he said. I called it and straightened it.

This is always the case for him.

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“He will be on earth wherever a humanitarian crisis occurs,” says his friend Frank Giustra, a Canadian philanthropist. “I don’t know how he does it, but he gets things done — better, faster, and more efficient than anyone else.

“He has a lorodex like you’ve never seen before. Choosing a country, he knows who to call to get things done. And when he sleeps I don’t know. I can send texts day and night from anywhere in the world and he always responds. “

Kahn admits that he rarely sleeps.

Among his contacts are “professional operators living in the shadows” and others who have worked in the public and private sectors around the world for over 20 years.

Due to the evacuation of Afghan legislators and judges, one old relationship brought visas for Iran. The other is an airplane. Yet another Greek entry visa.

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In other cases, his contacts obtained entry visas to Kazakhstan, Georgia and Albania.

“We pay close attention to the details of the actual evacuation, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until people are safe.”

Despite all these contacts, Kahn relies primarily on a “core group of collaborators.”

Gistra is one of them.

Vancouver’s mining and film mogul met Khan while working for the Clinton Justra Foundation. At Kahn’s suggestion, Gistra went to Greece in 2015 and saw Syrian and Iraqi refugees arriving at the beach. Not only did they co-found El Pida Home there to help them, but it changed Gistra’s life.

Currently, he “gets out” of the business to pay for global refugee support through the Foundation, spending 60 percent of his time working as Co-Chair of the International Crisis Group.

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“I’m sure I could have been a millionaire, but I don’t think it’s necessary, so it’s not, and it’s never going to happen. It’s kind of stupid. I think that’s what Gistra said.

According to Gistra, Khan is giving out most of his money. “Now he wants to give you out too.”

Khan’s pitch is shameless and looks like this: Will you make a profit if you sell it? ” ‘Yes. ‘So why don’t you sell it and benefit me? “

Billionaire Lukas Lundin is a key collaborator who has funded the evacuation of Afghanistan and is currently assisting in Ukraine.

Lundin lives in Geneva, but the Lundin family mining company and the Lundin Foundation are headquartered in Vancouver.

He relies on private philanthropy and strives tirelessly, but Khan believes it is just the finger of a dike with nearly 90 million refugees worldwide.

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Government spending on humanitarian aid has not kept pace with the scale and frequency of disasters. Political priorities have reduced spending for the rich and reduced taxes. And instead of minutes of weightlessness wonders and yacht purchases, it might help a few more millionaires to help those fleeing conflict, but former investment bankers say the problem is more than that. Said it was serious.

To fix that, Khan said a “significant shift in priority” would be needed. “And I don’t even know if that is possible with capitalism.”

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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Opinion: Private philanthropy helps, but does not end the refugee crisis

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