Escape from Kabul: the story of a government official

“We were on the flight from Tashkent to Germany when the explosion happened,” he said. “When we heard the news, there wasn’t a single person who hadn’t cracked. We thought of the families we were sitting with at Abbey Gate. I can only hope they are alive and have not perished. It’s a guilt that I find it hard to get away from. “

Those who remain

Ahmed’s family was one of the lucky few to have access to the evacuation. Countless other people at risk have not been offered a similar chance. Some have since been killed or captured by the Taliban; others are still stuck in the country, or risk their lives to find ways out.

The murder of four suspected kidnappers in Herat on September 25 has heightened fears among those who remained there. They were shot and their bodies hanged in public places in broad daylight. Morteza Samadi, 21 photojournalist, was arrested by the Taliban more than three weeks ago while covering women’s protests in the same city. On the evening of September 30, he was finally released and is resting at home, his brother Mostafa Samadi told the media.

Fears are growing among activists and others at risk who have requested the evacuation and have yet to receive a response. openDemocracy spoke to one, who applied in multiple countries, but did not receive a response. With the borders now closed, he sent a video to openDemocracy from his hiding place, which shows his house burned down, allegedly by the Taliban. With increasing violence against activists, those involved desperately want to be evacuated as quickly as possible.

According to The United Nations, around half a million Afghans are expected to flee the country by the end of the year. This number is in addition to the 2.2 million refugees who have found refuge in neighboring countries – mainly Iran and Pakistan.

Analysts have warned that the influx Afghan refugees could intensify the populist backlash – especially in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on August 16 drew criticism when he noted that Europe must “protect itself from the large waves of illegal migrants” from Afghanistan. The recent German election campaign was also fraught with pitfalls comments senior politicians who have warned that the “2015 Syrian refugee crisis” should not be repeated.

In the United States, senators expressed worry on “reports that ineligible individuals, including Afghans with links to terrorist organizations or serious and violent criminals, have been evacuated alongside innocent refugee families.”

With the belated response from the Western world and the growing human rights crisis in Afghanistan, those who remain face growing threats with each passing day. Meanwhile, several residents of Kabul have told openDemocracy that clean water, food and medical aid will soon become scarce, and families use limited resources with care.

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