By Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona. Women in London demonstrate against the Taliban on August 22, 2021, via Unsplash.


Recently, readers of the Cosmopolitan Globalist contributed generously to a fundraiser for this family of five Afghan girls. They are still in grave danger. Their mother asked me to share this update with you.

I am writing this letter to you from Afghanistan. I want to inform you about my family situation.

Since the fall of the government to the Taliban, my family and I have been in hiding in Afghanistan. The situation is difficult and frustration is evident in all of us. My family and I face an uncertain future in Afghanistan. The Taliban do not value the rights of women and girls. They hate women. The Taliban are against educating girls. The Taliban are against women working in society. They are savages and do not know anything about human rights.

I have worked as a lawyer and women’s rights activist in Afghanistan and my husband has worked for seven years with a French organization called ██████████.

When the Taliban came to power, they released all the prisoners. They released those whom I worked to imprison. Now the criminals that have been released and the Taliban are looking for lawyers. Judges. They are killing women’s rights activists and human rights activists. Several women’s rights activists have been killed in Afghanistan in recent days. My life and that of my family are in grave danger. We contacted the French authorities many times to get us out of Afghanistan because my husband worked for a French institution for more than seven years, but they have not replied yet.

On the day of the explosion near the airport, my son ██████████ was at the airport and at the Abbey Gate, but he could not find the French soldiers and left before the explosion. God saved ██████████, otherwise we would have lost him. More than 120 people were killed in the blast.

We are in contact with Too Young to Wed. They can transfer my family to Pakistan. They can transfer people who have passports. My daughter ██████████  did not have a passport, but we were able to get a passport for her last week and we sent her passport to TYTW to include it in our file.

My son ██████████ needs to renew his passport. We are trying to renew his passport, but there is a lot of crowds in the passport department and it is very difficult to get a passport, but we will continue our efforts to renew ██████████’s passport.

Last week, the Asia Foundation referred me and my family to the P2 program and we hope to leave Afghanistan soon.

These days, life is depressing and boring for us. We are at home out of fear and we do not go out. My son and my husband go out shopping and to buy basic necessities.

We do not have economic problems at the moment because Ms. Claire Berlinski has sent us money and we can buy enough food and other supplies we need. My family is grateful to all those who donated to us.

We in the family talk about our future every day and night. If we stay in Afghanistan, we will have a dark future because my daughters cannot study. They cannot work in their society. I can no longer defend the rights of women and children.

If we can get out of Afghanistan, my children will have a bright future. They can study and work, and I can serve my community. I would like to work in the field of women’s and children’s rights.

We hope that the French government will save our lives because my husband worked with a French institution for many years and now we hope the French government will save us and not leave us alone in this situation. We have also sent our documents to the British government and we hope to find a way out of Afghanistan and get out of this situation soon.

I have six children, five of whom are girls. My daughters are at risk of forced marriage. There are rapes and other problems. I want my children to live freely and continue their education.

The Taliban have arrested several young girls in the past few days and asked them to have sex, which makes me very worried because my daughters are also in danger.

I ask all those who read this message help my family so that we can leave Afghanistan. So that we can live in a safe and free place.


CLAIRE BERLINSKI, co-founder and editor of the Cosmopolitan Globalist: Three days ago, The New York Times published a remarkable obituary on its front page. The headline read, “Justus Rosenberg, Beloved Professor With a Heroic Past, Dies at 100.” The sub-heading explained: “As a teenager, he helped provide safe passage to artists and intellectuals out of Vichy France. He went on to teach literature at Bard College for six decades.”

As I read the article, I suddenly caught my breath:

… He found refuge there in a cinema that had been converted into a rest stop, with bags of straw laid across its floors. Settling in for the night, he met an American student named Miriam Davenport, who took a keen interest in him. She encouraged him to follow her to Marseille, and when he did, she offered him an unexpected assignment.

“Gussie,” she told him, “I’ve got a job for you.”

Ms. Davenport had recently rendezvoused with Varian Fry, who was sent to Europe by the Emergency Rescue Committee, a group of New York intellectuals who wanted to help cultural figures stranded in collaborationist Vichy France.

When last I wrote about this family, I mentioned this passage from my grandfather’s biography:

After France’s surrender to Germany and the establishment of the Vichy government, Berlinski determined to leave while he (and his wife) still could, and to head for America. His father had gone there earlier, and he also had a number of relatives who had emigrated directly from Lódź and were residing in New Jersey. In this he was assisted by a man named Varian Fry (“the American Schindler”), who had come voluntarily to France to facilitate the rescue and emigration of stranded European intellectuals.

As both a German native and a veteran French Legionnaire who had fought against Germany, Berlinski was technically ineligible for an exit visa, since the cooperating French authorities were required to hand over all such individuals to the Germans. His illegally “purchased” exit visa still required an approval stamp. He obtained that only because the French official did not realize that Lipsk, shown as his birthplace on his passport, was simply the Polish translation for Leipzig, and thus assumed incorrectly that Berlinski had been born in Poland rather than Germany. There was still the problem, however, that Poland was occupied by Germany as well. Fry helped him invent a Russian identity, which finally qualified him for exit, since the Soviet Union was still technically neutral as a result of the infamous but soon-to-be-violated nonaggression pact. He left France and arrived in the United States only two weeks before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Rosenberg’s obituary explains the role he played in the rescue operation:

Mr. Fry arrived with a list of names and Eleanor Roosevelt’s blessing. His operation became one of the most successful private U.S. rescue missions of World War II, saving some 2,000 people, and he is remembered by Holocaust historians as the American Schindler.

But before any of that happened, Mr. Fry needed a courier he could trust to deliver messages and fake documents across Marseille, which had become a city of desperation, its port swarming with refugees trying to flee the country. Ms. Davenport told him about the young Mr. Rosenberg, who was “Aryan-looking” and spoke French. Mr. Fry quickly enlisted him.

You can hear my grandfather tell this story from his perspective, here. When I listen to his voice now, he might as well be sitting right here with me in this room. Please, do listen to him. His voice and his story mean a great deal to me.

My father, too, recently wrote in the Cosmopolitan Globalist about this period in my family’s history.

Rosenberg’s obituary continues:

Mr. Rosenberg accompanied Mr. Fry’s illustrious charges across the Pyrenees into Spain, which often accepted refugees who had made the crossing without an exit visa. He once shepherded the writers Heinrich Mann and Franz Werfel, who traveled with their wives. (Werfel’s wife, Alma, was the composer Gustav Mahler’s widow.) As he guided them, Mr. Rosenberg befriended Mann’s wife, Nelly, who brought out a flask of brandy for him to sip on as they marched across the range.

The pieces fit together. This was the route by which my grandparents escaped—across the Pyrenees into Spain. Did Rosenberg’s “illustrious charges” include my grandparents? It seems very plausible, and if so, I owe him my life.

I want to repay Varian Fry and Justus Rosenberg for saving my family in the only way I meaningfully can—by saving this family. They’re at risk just as mine was; the parallels are far too obvious, too painfully obvious, to ignore.

We’ve had good luck raising money for them. You—our readers—have been generous. But we’ve had no luck, so far, in finding a government who will take them. Under every relevant international convention, this family is eligible for asylum and refugee status. But getting them to a safe place where they make this claim has so far proven almost impossible. (I can’t use the word “impossible.”)

Most countries observe international refugee law in principle; in practice, they erect such massive physical barriers between refugees and any place they might claim asylum that the laws are rendered all but meaningless.

The same barriers were in place when my grandparents were alive, too.

So I’m once again issuing an appeal—not for money, this time, although surely they could use more of that, so please do donate if you’re moved—but for help from someone, in a safe country, who has the power to stamp “APPROVED” on an asylum application.

This is all they ask: The chance to live, the chance to see their children educate their minds and contribute their talents to serve their new community. You would be proud to have them as neighbors. They would be no burden on your country or its welfare system; to the contrary, they have many years of productive work ahead of them and would surely contribute more to your country than they would take. They are not criminals or terrorists. They’re just five girls who want to keep going to school, a boy who wants to protect his family and pursue his studies in computer science, and their terribly worried, loving parents. They have much to offer. They just need someone who can cut through the red tape on their behalf—someone with far more power than me.

Do you know someone who has that power? Or perhaps you know someone who might know that kind of person? If so, would you please forward this newsletter to them? Would you send it, please, to your representatives in Congress? Your Home Secretary? To anyone you know who understands how to make the levers of your government work?

Please help me figure out a way to help them. Their children and grandchildren will remember you generations later. You’ll be the example of decency and heroism for them that Justus Rosenberg is to me.

I can’t bear the idea of letting this family down. They so much want to live.

You can contribute hereto the fund to help them.


The author was a lawyer and women’s rights activist in Kabul before it fell to the Taliban. For her security and her family’s, we are not sharing her name.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.