With airport closing, Afghans rush to borders

Crowds eager to flee Afghanistan rushed to the country’s borders as long lines formed at banks on Wednesday, and the administrative vacuum that has existed since the Taliban took power has left foreign donors uncertain about how to respond to an impending humanitarian crisis .




Pakistan and Taliban flags at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing in the Pakistani town of Chaman 27/08/2021 REUTERS/Saeed Ali Achakzai

Pakistan and Taliban flags at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing in the Pakistani town of Chaman 27/08/2021 REUTERS/Saeed Ali Achakzai

Photo: Reuters

The Islamic militia focused on keeping banks, hospitals and the government apparatus functioning after the final withdrawal of US forces on Monday ended a massive airlift to the withdrawal of Afghans who had helped Western countries during the 20-year war.

With Kabul’s airport inoperative, particular efforts to help Afghans fearful of Taliban reprisals have focused on gaining free passage across the landlocked nation’s borders with Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian countries.

In Torkham, a large Pakistani border crossing just east of the Khyber Pass, a Pakistani official said: “A large number of people are awaiting the opening of the gate on the Afghan side.”

Thousands also gathered at the Islam Qala post on the border with Iran, witnesses said.

“I felt that being among the Iranian security forces brought a kind of relaxation for Afghans entering Iran, compared to the past,” said one Afghan of a group of eight crossing.

More than 123,000 people were evacuated from Kabul during the US-led airlift after the Taliban took over the city in mid-August, but tens of thousands of Afghans at risk were left behind.

Germany alone estimates that between 10,000 and 40,000 Afghan employees still working for Afghan development organizations are entitled to be taken to their soil if they feel threatened.

The Taliban is talking with Qatar and Turkey about how to manage the Kabul airport, according to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, but it could take days or weeks for these negotiations to be finalized.

Uzbekistan’s land border with Afghanistan remained closed, but his government said it would assist Afghans transiting to Germany by air once flights resume.

In a resolution passed on Monday, the United Nations Security Council asked the Taliban to give free passage to those who wish to leave, but did not mention the creation of a safe zone, a measure supported by France and others.

The Taliban has not yet installed a new government, nor has it revealed how it intends to govern — unlike in 1996, when a council of leaders was formed hours after the capital was taken.

(From Reuters newsrooms)

((Translation of the São Paulo Newsroom, 5511 56447759)) REUTERS ES