Post-Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's refugee question takes centre stage

·3-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Kabul [Afghanistan], September 12 (ANI): Pictures of US military cargo planes, carrying more than six hundred Afghans, went viral after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan raising questions on the Afghan refugees worsening situation.

Luavut Zahid, writing in Crisis Response took an in-depth look at the implications for those fleeing Afghanistan.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at airports as flights were shut down, resulting in people blocking the tarmac and climbing into evacuation planes.

Some fell to their death as they attempt to flee the country. The situation put a large question mark on what will become of the people, and more so of the refugees running for their lives, said Zahid.

It's no secret that life as a refugee is difficult, laced with a lack of structure, resources and, in many cases, disdain from the locals. Even with NGOs and aid agencies trying to step up the game, the camps that most refugees end up in continue to exist in abysmal conditions.

According to UNHCR numbers, this year alone, more than 400,000 Afghans have been displaced from their homes, fleeing as the terror outfit claimed territories under its control, adding to the 2.9 million who were already internally displaced by the end of 2020, with the overall numbers coming up to five million.

The question is who is trying to leave? The answer is simple, and then not so simple. At a glance, it would appear that anyone and everyone is on the run. Those active in military or government ranks have a genuine reason to leave. They are joined by activists, liberal thinkers - and a good proportion of regular people who have given in to the panic, reported Crisis Response.

As per Dr Liza Schuster, a Sociologist at the City University of London who spent six years in Afghanistan said, "The people who are really afraid are those who have been educated, those people who have been active in civil society and those people working for the government."

She also points out that the Taliban, despite public promises of pardons and forgiveness, seem to be going from house to house in a witch hunt. "They are searching for official vehicles and official documents and they're doing this in areas that are mostly occupied by Hazaras," she explained.

Dr Schuster explains that the exit itself is precarious and expensive. It's a game of resources versus desperation, and more often than not resources win. "Both Pakistan and Iran have become very unwelcoming to Afghans and the borders being closed make it really difficult for people to flee on foot," she said.

The reality is that those fleeing are the poorest of people and in present-day Afghanistan without enough money for a ticket and a visa means you're effectively going to end up a victim to the cartels and traffickers, said Zahid.

For an Afghan, leaving the country at no point means heading to greener pastures, a majority will settle into harsh camps, where the quality of life is abysmal, even with tireless efforts from various aid agencies.

It is pertinent to note that Afghans are reacting with panic to the Taliban takeover because they have lived it before. Those too young to remember have grown with stories of the time under Taliban rule. The atrocities and terror attacks are etched in the memory of several generations of Afghans, reported Crisis Response. (ANI)

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