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Afghan families cross the mountain pass to Pakistan on their trip to Canada


TORONTO / ISLAMABAD – Canada’s Immigration Minister said today that the country has now helped more than 140 Afghans travel to Pakistan by land, one of the few routes open to those who wish to leave the countries and have special Canadian VISAs.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino added that these refugees would be on their way to Canada within “days or weeks”.

Khyber Pass, a mountain pass on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, is currently a tangle of trucks, people, goods, Pakistani soldiers and now Taliban gunmen.

Until a few weeks ago, it was the Afghan army that controlled their side of the border, but now it’s the Taliban fighters who are giving the orders.

Under the Taliban’s white flag, border guards from both countries stand within walking distance of each other, controlling the mass of trucks coming and going, as well as the throng of Afghans desperate to leave.

A Taliban fighter said those with a VISA can leave or come whenever they want, but most Afghans who stand in line will be turned away because only those with travel documents for another country will be able to cross.

After hours on the road to get here, there is an excruciating wait to get that previous approval to move from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The paperwork needs to be accurate, and everything has been complicated by the COVID-19 testing.

A family of eight who left Kabul in the middle of the night, carrying luggage with Canadian flags on it, told CTV News it was difficult to cross the border.

“It took a long time,” said the father. “There were lots of people here. “

They had left Afghanistan exactly one month after the fall of Kabul.

“We’re going to Islamabad to finish the treatment, and then we’re going to rock and roll,” he said.

According to the minister’s office, most of the refugees traveling by land through Pakistan are Afghans who aided the Canadian military in the 2000s and fear retaliation from the Taliban.

About 3,700 people were evacuated to Canada before the withdrawal of US troops at the end of August. The federal government has announced that it will resettle 20,000 Afghans forced to flee.

Ten members of another family accepted by Canada also crossed the border into Pakistan today, but encountered a last-minute problem when two of them tested positive for COVID-19 and will pass the next five days in quarantine.

One more roadblock on the Canada Highway.

With files from The Canadian Press and Alexandra Mae Jones of CTVNews.ca

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