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Human First Coalition driven by Omaha brothers

Three Afghan-Americans were quick to join efforts to assist those left behind
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:06 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Safi Rauf is the young one. Born a refugee in Pakistan, he immigrated to Omaha with family and eventually attended Millard South High School. Two of his older brothers, Anees and Zabihulla, arrived for good in 2014 and 2019, respectively.

Safi went to Georgetown, and like Anees, worked for the U.S. in special operations in Afghanistan. He has his sights set on medical school at UNMC, but that has to wait now that so many need his help. Anees and his family put down roots in Omaha in 2014. Zabby had worked in the U.S. and abroad after becoming a refugee as a young man, eventually settling in Nebraska with his family in 2019.

As Afghan fell, Safhi was part of the group that came to be known as the Digital Dunkirk, a group of individuals working together to orchestrate help for those looking to get out of Afghanistan but who didn’t make it out through the initial American efforts. In the coming days, he would begin working with his brothers, and others, to extend the idea to Human First Coalition, which is doing work to clear hurdles for those left behind and create safety nets for those displaced within their own country.

“Those people helped us for the last twenty years,” Anees said. “They were with us, shoulders to shoulders and we are not supposed to leave them to the mercy of the enemy, I would call it.”

To make efforts to help hundreds, if not thousands, work on the scale needed now requires feet on the ground - or in basements - to help lead the way out for those who remain trapped in the Taliban regime.

Which is why much of their work in the opening days by the brothers came in the basement of Zabby’s house.

“Our main focus was just to rescue as many people as we can,” Anees said. “It was a nonstop thing, we were literally working from that basement 24-7.”

The official avenues are complicated to navigate from afar and there are efforts to get people across any border, with any paperwork that will help, in the country. So the brothers are working in Washington D.C. or anywhere they can get the ear of someone who can help.

The situation is even more complicated by what the United Nations calls a humanitarian crisis, with banks not functioning, many citizens are without necessities.

“It’s heartbreaking, it’s emotional,” Anees said. “There was no time for thinking. There were so many hurdles (in the days after Kabul fell) and we crossed those hurdles to where we are today.”

More information on the non-profit Human First Coalition can be found here.

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