Passage, from Kabul to the Bay

September 16, 2021
12PM - 1 PM (PST)

What is happening in Afghanistan? Where are fleeing Afghans going? What are they experiencing, and what do they need? A live UCSF and Community Panel on the crisis in Afghanistan and the UCSF response. 

The Bay Area is home to one of the largest communities of Afghans in the US. With the current events unfolding in Afghanistan, the Bay Area is preparing to receive a large influx of Afghans, many of whom have suffered deep traumas. While many are entering the US on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), others will require legal assistance to obtain legal status. UCSF's HHRI and IGHS are working together to respond to the crisis by sponsoring Afghan scholars at UCSF, and by providing rapid forensic asylum evaluations for newcomers.

Join us for a panel discussion featuring medical, legal, and policy experts involved in supporting Afghans in the Bay Area.

  • Dr. Zarin Noor: Pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, where she serves as Co-Director of the Center of Excellence for Immigrant Child Health and Wellbeing. Pediatrics Co-Director for UCSF’s Health and Human Rights Initiative (HHRI). Afghan refugee.
  • Dr. Ali Mirzazadeh: Associate Professor of Epidemiology, and Associate Director of the PhD for Global Health Sciences at UCSF, with more than 10 years of research on infectious diseases including HIV and HCV and related risk behaviors in Iran, Afghanistan and the US.
  • Dr. Coleen Kivlahan: Professor of Family & Community Medicine, serves as Chair of HHRI. Expert asylum evaluator with extensive international experience in conflict zones.
  • Dr. Jess Ghannam: Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Global Health Sciences. His research areas include evaluating the long-term health consequences of war on displaced communities and the psychological and psychiatric effects of armed conflict on children.  
  • Dr. Daniel Lowenstein: Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UCSF. Professor of Neurology.
  • Aisha Wahab: Hayward Mayor Pro Tempore and City Council Member. Afghan Coalition board member. Afghan-American.
  • Spojmie Nasiri: Afghan American immigration lawyer, member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), AILA "Afghan Crisis Task Force" Committee member and board member of Afghan American Community Organization (AACO)
  • Zahra Billoo: Attorney, Civil Rights Activist. Executive Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA).
  • Dr. Suzanne Barakat: Assistant Professor of Family & Community Medicine, serves as Executive Director of HHRI. TED speaker on allyship and Islamophobia. Panel moderator.


Please help Afghan scholars and refugees find a safe haven in the Bay Area and access medical, legal, and financial crisis support.

We are incredibly grateful to announce that we have secured a generous matching gift! Going forward, every donation to the Afghan Scholar and Refugee Initiative will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $60,000.

We are all bearing witness to the catastrophe in Afghanistan, where millions of Afghans face grave humanitarian and human rights consequences. More than 120,000 Afghans have been airlifted out of Afghanistan, many of whom are coming to California to remake their lives. UCSF has committed to supporting Afghan scholars, physicians, and other refugees in relocating to the Bay Area, and we need your help.



Under the leadership of Chancellor Sam Hawgood and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein, an enterprising group of UCSF faculty and staff members are gathering the resources and putting together the infrastructure to make this support possible. The UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences (IGHS) is working to secure the entry of two Afghan scholars who have been accepted into its program and need your help getting to the Bay Area, along with assistance for tuition and living costs.

Your gift will help these Afghan scholars successfully transition to life in the United States and at UCSF. With your support, we plan to provide asylum evaluations, living and tuition expenses, and other “wrap-around” services. 



The UCSF Health and Human Rights Initiative (HHRI) provides forensic medical evaluations for children and adults seeking asylum in the United States. HHRI clinicians offer this service onsite or remotely through a student-run clinic. The evaluations document physical and psychological torture and often are crucial for winning asylum cases. Your gift will help us provide these evaluations for Afghan refugees pro-bono.

Thank you for rising to the occasion by making a gift today and sharing this page with your community. We are grateful for your compassion and support for our Afghan colleagues and fellow human beings during this devastating crisis. 


To learn more about supporting this initiative, please contact Allison White, Director of Development, at [email protected] or (415) 319-0322.

To connect with the Health and Human Rights Initiative and learn more about forensic evaluations or to submit a referral, please contact: [email protected]

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