In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, Hoover Senior Fellow H.R. McMaster organized a group of Hoover staff and students who comprised the beginnings of the Hoover Afghanistan Research and Relief Team (HART).  Consistent with the overall mission, history, and tradition of the Hoover Institution, HART initially supported and filled gaps in the US government’s efforts to evacuate refugees. Herbert Hoover himself was a leader of humanitarian efforts beginning in World War I and during the periods of World War II and the Korean War. HART then transitioned to collect and preserve historical materials on the war in Afghanistan at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives for generations to come. 

Evacuation And Relief

Hoover Afghanistan Research and Relief Team (HART) assisted Afghans with visa applications, collated data and documents to help them find refuge, connected individuals and groups to relevant governmental and non-governmental organizations, amplified the voice of Afghan refugees, and shared information to facilitate sustained relocation, relief, and resettlement efforts. 

400 Afghans in the HART network were evacuated and relocated throughout the year. Over 60 letters of support bolstered Afghans’ applications for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) and various refugee statuses. 

HART unburdened 65 SIV, 26 Humanitarian Parole, 45 Priority (P1/P2), 60 American Citizens/Legal Permanent Residents/I-130-eligible, 10 Fellowship applicants and 10 other visa applicants under duress from paperwork, assisted with sending documentation to the appropriate offices, and shared information with them during the application process.

Oral Histories

America’s longest war ended in August 2021 but the lessons learned from 20 years of America’s fighting and foreign policy in Afghanistan will take decades to process, reflect on, and learn from. The Hoover Institution’s Library and Archives has partnered with the Hoover Afghanistan Relief Team, led by the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow H.R. McMaster, to document the important stories of Afghans, Americans and others who took part in and experienced the war and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. Halima Kazem, Hoover Afghanistan's Oral Historian is capturing the stories and experiences of Afghans fleeing the country after the US withdrawal, the Taliban regime takeover, and the collapse of the Afghan government.  

“I have received threatening phone calls from the Taliban, telling me I will be killed because of my association with the Americans. How did they get my name? How did they find my phone number? This Taliban is much more strategic than those who came 25 years ago. I have changed houses and phones and will need to flee soon. I am sorry to have bothered you, but it’s a matter of life and death for my family and me. Can you help in this desperate situation?”

HART Relief Operations

"Ninety percent of the black hawk helicopters [for the Afghan National Army] were serviced and repaired by American contractors."

Former member of the Afghan National Army

HART Oral History Interview

“The situation is getting worse, ma'am. Last night they entered a house in my area and took [someone] with them. I had to move to another place. I come home late every night. I have bad neighbors. They already informed them [the Taliban] about me. Is there any hope from your side about my family? We don't sleep at all.”

HART Relief Operations

"As things progressed, it became clear to me that we really never had a commitment to a real, workable, and effective anti-corruption strategy."

Former Employee of the United States Embassy in Afghanistan

HART Oral History Interview

“I need to ask you for help. I am in Afghanistan with my family and we are stranded. I am struggling to get myself and my family out of the country before the US forces wrap up and leave by the end of the month, after which the Taliban will most probably close borders to those who remain behind, and we will be left at the mercy of one of the cruelest groups in the world. If you know of any possibility that I could be included in the evacuation plan... This is a critical time, and any kind of help will be lifesaving.”

HART Relief Operations


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