Conflicts & War

Amnesty urges nations to shelter Afghans at risk of Taliban reprisals

Kabul, Oct 21 (EFE).- Global rights defender Amnesty International Thursday urged the world to protect and give asylum to Afghans who face the risk of Taliban backlash in Afghanistan.

The rights group said Afghans who try to leave Afghanistan for refuge faced obstacles due to the closure of land borders in neighboring countries, leaving many with no choice but to make irregular crossings.

“Trying to get out of Afghanistan right now is like an obstacle course,” Francesca Pizzutelli, head of AI Refugees and Migrant Rights Team, said in a statement.

She said it was “near-impossible” to obtain travel documents after the Taliban takeover that forced many Afghans to make irregular journeys, resulting in punitive treatment by other governments.

“Instead of finding safety and protection, Afghans who fled the Taliban end up trapped in makeshift camps at border zones, or detained while they await deportation to an uncertain fate.”

The group said Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan had all closed their borders to Afghans traveling without documents, despite knowing that returning people would put them at risk of Taliban human rights violations.

It said Iranian authorities deported 58,279 undocumented Afghans between Aug.27 and Sep.9, while Uzbekistan returned 150 people to Afghanistan after an agreement with the Taliban.

Countries including Bulgaria, Croatia, and Greece have continued to carry out pushbacks against Afghans.

Poland has introduced new restrictions which will make it impossible for people crossing the border irregularly to claim asylum in the country.

“Amnesty International is calling on all countries to live up to their obligation to protect people at risk of serious human rights violations, by immediately ending all returns or deportations to Afghanistan and ensuring access to fair asylum procedures,” the statement said.

“They should also urgently take steps to secure safe passage for Afghans who are in danger of being targeted by the Taliban, including by minimizing requirements for travel documentation and offering humanitarian visas to those most at risk.”

The Taliban took control of Kabul on Aug.15 in a lightning march to the Kabul after the final withdrawal of international troops.

The sudden defeat of the Western-backed government led by President Ashraf Ghani, who has since fled to the United Arab Emirates, unleashed panic among the Afghans.

Thousands of them rushed to the Kabul international airport in a bid to board evacuation flights as foreign countries removed their citizens out of the country.

The chaos continued for weeks, with thousands of people trying to reach the airport.

A suicide bombing by the Islamic State left at least 170 dead near the Kabul airport in late August.

Amnesty also highlighted the impact of security clearance processes on Afghans seeking refuge.

“While Afghanistan human rights situation continues to deteriorate, all countries must take immediate measures to enable exit from Afghanistan, in particular for women activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and people from marginalized ethnic or religious minorities.”

Pizzutelli said the lives of thousands of women and men who had worked to promote and defend human rights, gender equality, the rule of law, and democratic freedoms in their country “are now hanging by a thread.”

“The world must not abandon Afghanistan at this critical moment. We need a concerted international effort to bring Afghans to safety.” EFE

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