The last US military left Afghanistan on Monday night (30), ending 20 years of war, the longest in US history. As the Taliban took over the military airport in Kabul, more than 20,000 people crossed the border with the Pakistan, the main destination for refugees, from where some will try to reach Europe.
VIDEO: Taliban celebrates US troops leaving Afghanistan with gunfire
Thousands of Afghans are now trying to flee their country by road. According to the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), 515,000 refugees have fled Afghanistan recently. This flow will undoubtedly continue. UNHCR is gearing up for half a million or more people to leave Afghanistan in the coming months, mostly to Pakistan. Currently, about 20 thousand people cross this border daily, triple the normal.
UN warns of new migratory wave; half a million Afghans are expected to flee the country by year’s end
Pakistan is already home to 3 million Afghan refugees, mainly those who left the country during the war against the Soviet Union or the civil war of the 1990s. Half of them have no documents and are in an illegal situation.
For Pakistan, which is facing a major economic crisis, accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, this influx of refugees is a huge challenge. However, the country is opening its doors, despite the initial speech by Pakistani authorities who said they did not want to receive refugees.
This can be seen in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Hotels are preparing to be partially requisitioned to accommodate arriving refugees. Neighboring countries such as Pakistan will serve as the refugees’ first exit before moving on to other destinations.
Since the Americans left, Kabul has become a “ghost town,” in the words of one resident who is still there. “There aren’t many people on the streets. Our country is collapsing, sinking,” he says.
He says the economy was already fragile before the Taliban took power. Banks are closed, there is no more liquidity, people are hungry, they have no money to buy food or pay rent. A car that cost $9,000 just a month ago is now worth a third, the same for homes.
Civil society activists, journalists, those who have worked with foreigners and have not yet been able to leave the country are terrified. Many are hiding with friends, renting other houses. Residents of Kabul say they received a visit from the Taliban. They interrogate, threaten, search houses, confiscate goods and cars. Terror has already reached part of the population.
Resistance in the Panshir Valley and abroad
If the Taliban wins, a pocket of resistance remains: the Panshir Valley, the stronghold of Commander Massoud, murdered on September 9, 2001 in a suicide attack. He was the main figure in the resistance against the Taliban. His son Ahmad is already in place in the region.
Abroad, the Afghan diaspora is also mobilizing. Messages are relayed through social media, with the hashtag #FreeAfghanistan.