Instagram memer Tommy Marcus, also known as @quentin.quarantio, started a campaign to help Afghans.
Raising over $6.7 million, the campaign aims to fly out Afghanswho need help escaping the Taliban.
Marcus is working with the US Military and other volunteer groups for the success of the operation.
Marcus’s GoFundMe raised $800 thousand in its first two hours, and now–having been up for less than a week–Marcus’s campaign titled “Flyaway: Emergency Afghan Rescue Mission” is the largest humanitarian effort in the crowdfunding platform’s history.
Partnering with organizations like the International Women’s Media Foundation, Upworthy, and various veterans groups in the Los Angeles area, the fundraiser aims to rescue individuals who are considered “high-value targets” and “who otherwise have no chance of survival in the Taliban-occupied Kabul” and relocate them to countries outside of the US, according to the campaign’s GoFundMe page. Such individuals include Afghan men and women who have worked as humanitarian rights lawyers, LGBTQ activists, journalists, government liaisons, artists, and entrepreneurs.
“If these people do not get rescued as soon as possible, neither they nor their families will make it through the month,” the fundraiser said.
The campaign, originally with a goal of $550,000, said that every $1,500 raised represents a seat on one of the two planes chartered for a rescue mission. Now at over 12 times its original goal, Marcus and his team of US Army Special Forces veterans and activists are planning on making as many flights as the fund and the governments they are collaborating with will allow, Marcus explained in an Instagram post on Wednesday night.
Marcus and his team hope to help around 2,000 people in Afghanistan, he told Insider in an interview.
Until all the evacuees are safe, Marcus and his team are keeping some of the information about the recuse mission private, he explained in an Instagram post.
The mission faces many challenges: landing safely in Kabul, vetting the evacuees, and preparing them for a successful life outside of Afghanistan. Marcus did state on Instagram that the US Military is involved to help with the project’s operation.
Some have doubted whether or not the mission is possible.
“How are you going to just land two planes in Afghanistan when they’ve just restricted air travel in and out of the country?” one Instagram user commented.
In a statement reported by The New York Times, the State Department said: “We appreciate community-led efforts to support the Afghan relocation and resettlement process, which reflects the generosity of the American people and the international community. However, we are unable to verify the authenticity or effectiveness of these efforts.”
Marcus feels as though the article failed to understand the full scope of the operation.
“The Times article is primarily based off of the assumption that the only country we’re working with is the United States,” Marcus said. “What I can say is that we’re in very encouraging spots with multiple countries who are willing to offer their grace to these people who desperately need it.”
GoFundMe is also reviewing every fundraiser to Afghanistan to ensure compliance with the law and financial regulations to protect both organizers and donors, a spokesperson told Insider.
The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul a week ago. Since then the US-backed Afghan government has collapsed. The US has been scrambling to evacuate thousands of Americans as well as Afghans who assisted the US government over the 20-year war, according to Insider.
Footage coming out of Kabul airport from this week showed crowds massing on the tarmac in an effort to get on planes and escape the country. Other photos and videos emerged of Afghans climbing onto jet bridges, hanging onto flights during takeoff, and even what appeared to be people falling off planes in the sky, Insider reported.
“We’re on standby and ready to go to make this happen,” Marcus said of his program. “It’s a true miracle and there are more miracles that are going to happen.”
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