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The day after the last American plane took off from Kabul airport, which left overnight on August 30, thousands of Afghans remained in their country while they still hoped to be able to be evacuated by one of the transports organized by the States. – United or European countries. Many are in danger: since 2001, some have worked with the West, others openly criticized the Taliban. Four of them tell of their fear and how they see the future.
Some will have hoped until the last minute, waiting for a hypothetical chance to be embarked on the last flights leaving Kabul. The airport, like most of the country, is now in Taliban hands. For those who could not leave, it is a period of absolute anguish that begins.
“My neighbors told me that dozens of Taliban were in my garden”
“Saed” (first name has been changed), a journalist, managed to reach Kabul from the town where he worked, but not to be evacuated:
When the Taliban occupied our city I moved to a secret location because I knew they were after me. I had had threats in the past.
I was afraid of the Taliban to shake. And it got worse in recent days: my neighbors in my home town told me that dozens of Taliban were in my backyard, asking the neighborhood what I had done.
What did I do ? I don’t have to answer that, I haven’t done anything wrong. All my life I have been a journalist.
Before the Americans left I was scared but still hopeful. I knew there were people thinking of me, and I thought I could go. But no. All our hopes vanished last night. Even if commercial flights resume, I dare not go to the airport. The Taliban are looking for me, am I really going to go over there and say ‘hi, here I am’?
I have no hope. But I’ll do anything to save my life. If I have to, I’ll try to cross the border with a smuggler.
Symbolic funeral prayer of US and NATO in Khost. A large number of people are participating pic.twitter.com/usRVOBTVkg
– Afghanistan 24/7 (@AfghanUpdates) August 31, 2021
Video of a demonstration celebrating the “symbolic funerals” of NATO and the United States in Khost, August 31.
“They came to her house, shot her in the head”
“Sara”, is a women’s rights activist in the east of the country:
Something has changed since the arrival of the Taliban and it is painful to admit. Before, women’s rights activists shared a sense of sisterhood, they tried to support each other. But now activists, and even friends and family members don’t trust each other anymore.
We have former colleagues who started working with the Taliban, not activists but people who were employees of human rights NGOs. The main reason is that people want to save their own lives. They don’t care about others, they’re ready to lie.
I contacted the officials of the NGO for which I worked, until two weeks ago. They did not respond. I heard that they left Afghanistan with their immediate family, which is normal, but also their extended family, parents, cousins, ordinary citizens. We have been abandoned.
Three days ago the Taliban – or the Islamic State group, I’m not sure – murdered one of my colleagues. She was an activist like me and a nurse. They came to her house, shot her in the head, kidnapped her husband. The family refuses to communicate for fear that the husband will also be killed. I have had nightmares since his assassination. There is no more way out. Either I risk my life by going out and trying to reach a border, or to go to an area where no one knows me. Either I stay here, until the Taliban forget about me; And I don’t know when that will happen.
“We change houses every three or four days”
Others share their feelings towards Westerners, and the feeling of abandonment that wins them, such as “Hebat” who lives in a town in the north of the country:
I am devastated. I have the feeling that we are in a trap. I am terrified but I cannot show it, so my son will continue to feel safe. We hide with relatives, we change houses every three or four days. But how long are we going to do this? How am I going to earn money for my family? How long will I be able to tell my son that he has to stay locked up and can’t go outside and play?
I worked for NGOs, Afghan and international, most of the time on a voluntary basis, but I was happy to do so. I wasn’t doing it for my people, my country. And I feel very naive now. I have asked these NGOs for help since my town fell to the Taliban, but it is as if I had disappeared. No one answered my SOS. Anybody. I’ll find a way to escape Afghanistan, I’m sure. But I will not forget the NGOs that have abandoned us. Like the United States and all Western countries, they sold us to the Taliban.
“In the planes, there was only room for the directors of NGOs and their families in Kabul”
“Reza” lives in a city in the center of the country where he works in the humanitarian and health sector:
Fortunately, in the region, the presence of the Taliban has relaxed a little, many of them have returned to their villages. But my city remains under serious scrutiny. I’ve only been venturing outside for a few days. I decided to continue my activist work, I know it’s dangerous, I’m afraid, but we can’t shut everything down and leave people in the hands of the Taliban.
Outside, I make recordings, take pictures for the NGO I work for, with which we conduct investigations and publish articles in media under false identities. I keep a low profile so as not to attract attention
At first I wanted to leave too. But I quickly saw that it would be complicated: the borders were closed, and in the evacuation planes, there was only room for the directors of NGOs and their families in Kabul, not for the little soldiers. in the provinces like me. So I decided to continue what I was doing, I am not doing it for the NGOs, I am doing it for the people here.
French President Emmanuel Macron had proposed, with the support of Germany and the United Kingdom, the creation of a protected zone in Kabul in order to continue the evacuations of those who were eligible. This proposal was rejected by the Taliban, by the voice of one of their spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, who however affirmed that with a passport and a visa, “everyone will be able to leave Afghanistan and come there from another country “, underlining the will of the new masters of Kabul to reopen the airport as quickly as possible.