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Countries urged to take in Afghan refugees as thousands try to flee Taliban

Afghans rushed onto the tarmac at Kabul airport yesterday in an attempt to leave the country.

A passenger walks to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
A passenger walks to the departures terminal of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Image: Rahmat Gul/AP

AS THOUSANDS OF people try to flee Taliban control in Afghanistan, countries are being urged to take in refugees. 

People have been leaving their homes in Afghanistan after the Taliban swiftly took control of the country and the government collapsed. 

Yesterday, Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of Kabul airport after the Islamist militant group took control of the capital city. 

Some clung to the side of a US military plane before takeoff, in a widely shared video that captured the sense of desperation as America’s 20-year war comes to a chaotic end.

The Washington Post reports that human remains were allegedly discovered in the wheel well of a military plane after it landed in another country.

Secretary-general of the United Nations António Guterres has urged countries “to be willing to receive Afghan refugees & refrain from deportations”. 

“Afghans have known generations of war & hardship. They deserve our full support. Now is the time for solidarity,” he said on Twitter

Yesterday, the government confirmed that Ireland will accept 150 refugees from the country. 

150 additional humanitarian visas will be provided for Afghans under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme in addition to 45 visas already approved in recent days. 

The government said the country will ”play its part in providing practical support to some of those under threat from the Taliban by providing for their resettlement”.

Priority will be given to those working on human rights issues, including the rights of women and girls, as well as those working with NGOs and European and international organisations.

Many other countries have announced similar plans. Canada said it will take in up to 20,000 people and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a resettlement scheme in the coming days. 

However, Turkey is stepping up its construction of a wall along its border with Iran to prevent an influx of refugees from Afghanistan, president Erdogan has said. 

 Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai has called on all countries to open their borders to Afghan refugees.

The Pakistani activist, who was shot in the head by the extremist group in 2012 after enraging them with her campaign for girls’ schooling, has also said she is standing up for women whose education has been taken away from them once again.

People fleeing Afghanistan are worried that the country could descend into chaos or the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks against those who worked with the US or the government.

Many also fear the Taliban will reimpose the harsh interpretation of Islamic law that they relied when they ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban have declared an “amnesty” across the country and urged women to join their government in an attempt to alter this perception. 

Skepticism and fear remain. Under their previous reign, people were subjected to punishments including stonings, amputations and public executions.

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Passport queues

Earlier this month, as the Taliban made huge advances, thousands queued for a passport to allow them to leave the country. 

AFP reported that people queuing did not want to leave immediately, but wanted the safety net available. 

Former civil servant Haji Sayed Mohammad Sultani said he wanted a passport but can’t imagine becoming a refugee again – as he was during the Taliban regime and the Soviet invasion and civil war that preceded it.

“As long as Afghanistan is liveable, we will not leave our country,” the 45-year-old said earlier this month.

Additional reporting by AFP and Press Association. 

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