Thousands from Afghanistan rush to Pakistan, Iran border crossings
Thousands of people trying to flee Afghanistan rushed to its borders on Wednesday as an administrative vacuum after the Taliban’s takeover left foreign donors unsure of how to respond to a looming humanitarian crisis.
The Islamist militia focused on keeping banks, hospitals and government machinery running after the final withdrawal of US forces on Monday brought an end to a huge airlift of Afghans who had helped western nations during the 20-year war.
With Kabul’s airport inoperable, private efforts to help Afghans fearful of Taliban reprisals focused on arranging safe passage across the landlocked nation’s borders with Iran, Pakistan and central Asian states.
At Torkham, a border crossing with Pakistan just east of the Khyber Pass, a Pakistani official said: “A large number of people are waiting on the Afghanistan side for the opening of the gate.” Thousands also gathered at the Islam Qala post on the border with Iran, witnesses said.
“I felt that being among Iranian security forces brought some kind of relaxation for Afghans as they entered Iran, compared with the past,” said one Afghan among a group of eight that crossed over. More than 123,000 people were evacuated from Kabul in the US-led airlift after the Taliban seized the city in mid-August, but tens of thousands of Afghans at risk remained behind.
Germany alone estimates that between 10,000 and 40,000 have a right to be evacuated to Germany if they feel endangered.
The Taliban is talking with Qatar and Turkey over how to run Kabul’s airport, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, but it could take days or weeks to finalise those negotiations.
Uzbekistan’s land border with northern Afghanistan remained closed but its government said it would assist Afghans in transit to Germany by air. In a resolution on Monday, the UN Security Council urged the Taliban to permit safe passage for those seeking to leave.