Safe houses and smuggled passports: Inside the sprawling Israeli-Canadian effort to rescue a second group of Afghan women

An Afghan refugee on board the flight to Albania. (Boaz Arad/IsraAID)

On Oct. 2, a plane of Afghan refugees touched down in Albania after a five-day journey. The group of 125 included women police officers, judges, cyclists and some of their families.

It’s the second effort coordinated by Israel’s largest relief agency, IsraAID, along with Canadian-Israeli businessman Sylvan Adams and a few friendly Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, to rescue Afghan refugees from the Taliban’s recent takeover.

Today, Adams is flying to Albania to meet with the refugees, who are being kept in a local hotel as they await a decision by the Canadian government over whether they can make it onto Canadian soil.. And that’s become a sticking point in this whole operation: rescuers, including the people at IsraAID, are growing increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of Canadian immigration bureaucracy—which they say is preventing them from saving even more Afghans.

Yotam Polizer, the CEO of IsraAID, joins today to discuss his concern with the Canadian government, and tell the inside story of how they got this latest group out of the fragile Central Asian country.

What we talked about:

  • Listen: “How billionaire Sylvan Adams helped rescue Afghanistan’s women cyclists” (
  • Read: “Canadian Jewish community eager to help Afghan refugees; private sponsorships are on hold for now” (
  • Watch: “How Jews and Arabs worked together to pull off an impossible rescue mission” (


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