Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.
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A Story of Loss. Read the heart wrenching story of a Pashtu interpreter (a former Pashtu linguist as an active-duty Airman) who helped with the processing of Afghan refugees at Ramstein Air Base, Germany during the Kabul NEO of August 2021. “Escaping Afghanistan – Between Two Worlds – a Story of Loss”, Small Wars Journal, Oct 14, 2022.
Pakistan and Refugee Management. The country of Pakistan has an absence of domestic refugee policy and lacks clearly communicated migration governance frameworks. Noorulain Naseem argues that Pakistan must consider formulating a cohesive refugee policy for Afghans that abides by both international obligations and local governance frameworks. “A Balancing Act: Challenges to Pakistan’s Refugee Management”, South Asian Voices, Stimson Center, October 14, 2022.
Afghan Students Heading to Russia on Scholarships. Almost 400 Afghans will be attending Russian universities for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. “Passports and visas for Russia issued to 365 Afghan scholarship students”, Ariana News, October 21, 2022.
EHC – Refugees Continue to Wait. Afghans who fled their country during August 2021 and in the months after were flown to the United Arab Emirates by the U.S. military and contract aircraft paid for by private volunteer groups. Although many have been resettled in the United States, Canada, and other countries, some Afghans are still waiting in the Emirates Humanitarian City (EHC). “Afghans in UAE facility are ‘psychologically suffering,’ Canada refugee says”, Reuters, October 13, 2022.
Germany’s New Program to Help at-risk Afghans. The German government announced a new effort to help bring 1,000 Afghans who are at-risk in Afghanistan to Germany each month. Eligible are journalists, scientists, political activists, judges, and others. Over 26,000 Afghans have arrived in Germany since the Kabul airlift of August 2021. Many of these Afghans had worked for the German military, police, or government prior to the Taliban taking power. Read a press release by the German government dated October 17, 2022.
Afghan Judge Dies in EHC. A respected Afghan supreme court judge, Sayed Yousuf Halim, died of a heart attack in Emirates Humanitarian City in the United Arab Emirates. “Abu Dhabi authority confirms death of Afghan judge in Humanitarian City”, The National News, October 20, 2022.
Problems with Afghan Visa Program. Only a small percentage of Afghans who helped the United States during the war have made it through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process. Thousands are still in Afghanistan struggling to get the SIVs they deserve. Only 18,000 visas have been issued to Afghans and their families since President Joe Biden took office. This is due, in part, to a short-staffed and overly bureaucratic system. “Afghan Visa Program Still Riddled with Dysfunction and Delays as Veterans Push for Fixes”, Military.com, October 21, 2022.
Family Reunification and DoS. Apparently the Department of State is having a hard time getting its website updated and functioning correctly. The DoS has been promising an online portal to help Afghans trying to reunite their families. Some family members got evacuated during the Kabul NEO of August 2021 but left spouses and children behind. The portal / landing page was supposed to be launched by DoS months ago. The portal would centralize what has been a piecemeal, case-by-case effort to reunify the thousands of Afghan families separated during the chaos that ensued after the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan a year ago. Read more in “Biden administration developing Afghan family reunification portal”, Axios, August 16, 2022.
“AfghanEvac has been advocating for the family reunification portal. We haven’t met resistance on it. We really want to see any fees associated with reunification be waived. It should cost Afghans nothing to have their family reunified.”Shawn VanDiver of AfghanEvac Coalition.
Afghan Refugees in Brazil. Over 6,000 humanitarian visas have been approved by Brazil since late last year. The Afghans are arriving so fast on a daily basis that the airport’s refugee assistance agency has not kept up with the influx. As a result, some Afghans find that they are camping out at the airport until lodging can be found for them. “Afghan refugees camp out in Brazil airport seeking a new life”, Yahoo!News, October 14, 2022.
Germany – And a Flawed Withdrawal. A top German diplomat has described a lack of planning in the months before the country’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in mid-summer 2021. There was never a plan for the evacuation of Afghans who supported the 20-year long German involvement in the Afghan conflict. “Afghanistan: German diplomat describes flawed withdrawal plan”, DW, October 14, 2022.
USAF Awards for Personnel Involved in Kabul NEO. More than one hundred Air Force members are being recognized for their efforts to evacuate thousands of Afghans over the course of almost three weeks in August 2021 during the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation. The NEO was the largest on in U.S. history. “Air Force to award 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 12 Bronze Stars for heroic Afghan airlift”, Task & Purpose, October 21, 2022.
The Education Underground. Learn about “The Education Underground”. A new organization that empowers the education of recent Afghan immigrants to the US and in regions of Afghanistan hostile to western NGOs. https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-education-underground/
FTP Member to Fight in MMA. A former member of the Afghan Female Tactical Platoon (FTP) is now living in the United States. While she waits for the Afghan Adjustment Act (if it passes Congress) to provide her with Special Immigrant Status (SIV) she is working in an Asian restaurant and training to fight in the ring. “Secret Female Afghan Commando Wants to Fight in MMA”, Voice of America, October 14, 2022.
Sad Story of a Child Torn From Its Afghan Family. A U.S. Marine has taken an Afghan child away from its family after they traveled to the United States during the Kabul NEO of August 2021. He used legal mechanisms to gain adoption of the baby and is accused of ‘baby abduction’. (PBS.org, Oct 20, 2022).
AAA – and the Backlogged Asylum Processing System. As the temporary parole status granted for Afghan refugees nears its end, advocates say passing the Afghan Adjustment Act is more important than ever. “One year later, Afghan refugees still aren’t guaranteed stability in the US”, Prism, October 13, 2022.
News About Afghanistan
Afghan Diplomats – an Uncertain Future. Across the globe there are Afghans working in embassies that were appointed by the Ghani regime. However, many of these Afghan diplomats do not recognize the Taliban government. Some of the embassies have shut down due to financial constraints; as many as ten. There are still about 50 Afghan embassies still operating around the world. There are a few countries who have accredited Taliban-appointed diplomats – Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. India has a functioning Afghan embassy that looks after the needs of Afghans in India. Read more in “Uncertainty looms for Afghan diplomats in overseas mission appointed before Taliban regime”, The Straits Times, October 16, 2022.
Taliban Targeting Tajiks. Jason Criss Howk writes about how Afghans of Tajik descent now find themselves at risk of persecution, beatings, and death at the hands of the Taliban. They are the victims of suicide bombings as well. Read more in “Suicide Bombing, Homicide, and Genocide – Tajiks Targeted Now in Afghanistan”, Clearance Jobs, October 20, 2022.
NRF – Interview with Hamid Safi. A former Afghanistan ANA brigade commander who is now fighting with the Northern Resistance Front is interviewed. (Special Eurasia, Oct 18, 2022).
India – Pakistan – Afghanistan. Now that Pakistan was successful with the installation of a puppet regime (the Taliban) in Afghanistan it is finding that the strings may be frayed. The Taliban are seeking more autonomy from its long-time benefactor and may be seeking to improve ties with India for economic and political reasons. Read more in “India, the Taliban, and the Country In Between”, by Don McLain Gill, The Diplomat, October 17, 2022.
Life Under the Taliban
Learning English in Afghanistan. Attending university level classes can be problematic for women in Afghanistan. But some are making it work. “The Daily Hustle: One young woman’s journey to an English course in Kabul”, Afghanistan Analysts Network, October 15, 2022.
Tolo News Director Departs Afghanistan. The head of a leading Afghan news channel left Afghanistan saying he couldn’t continue under Taliban rule. He has some serious concerns on how much longer a free and independent press can survive in Afghanistan. “Director of Afghanistan’s Tolo News leaves Kabul with heavy heart”, The New Arab, October 15, 2022.
Taliban and Legitimacy. The rulers of Kabul are on the path to claim themselves and be recognized by the international community as a legitimate government and open the way forward to receive international aid and support. “A Legitimized Taliban is Dangerous for the World”, Project Exodus, December 7, 2021.
Women in Afghanistan – Marginalized. The new leaders of Afghanistan have effectively silenced one half of the population of the country they lead. The hope that the Taliban would have a more modern agenda for women in Afghanistan has been dashed over the past year. “The Taliban Have Essentially Eliminated Women From Public Life”, Vanity Fair, November 2022.
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
Aid to Afghanistan Drops Off. With the coming of winter most Afghans will be experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity once again. Those who were connected with the former regime or assisted Western nations over the past twenty years are especially vulnerable – they have lost their jobs and many are constantly on the move . . . hiding from the Taliban. Since Ukraine has captured the world’s attention the focus has shifted from Afghanistan to the conflict in eastern Europe. Many private volunteer groups, like Operation North Star, have seen a huge drop in donor funds. This has caused a drastic cutback in the support that it provides to at-risk Afghans in Afghanistan that they are assisting. Beth Bailey provides more details in “As aid support drops off, Afghan allies suffer”, Washington Examiner, October 14, 2022.
Drugs in Afghanistan – Contributing to the Economy. The Taliban banned the cultivation of opium crops in the spring of 2022. However, there appears to be little enforcement of the ban. The drug trade is a major source of revenue for the Afghan economy. “Taliban Turns Blind Eye to Opium Production, Despite Official Ban”, Gandhara Blog, October 18, 2022.
A Collapsed Economy. The devastating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has Afghan families taking drastic actions to find shelter and put food on the table. “Living in a Collapsed Economy: the desperation and guilt of giving a young daughter in marriage”, Afghanistan Analyst Network (AAN), October 22, 2022.
Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion
Civil War Looming in Afghanistan? Perhaps. The former National Security Advisor for Afghanistan, Hamdullah Mohib, believes that it is coming. Economic breakdown, a refugee crisis, shortage of jobs, severe food price increases, drought, political and social repression by the Taliban, and more are all driving resistance to the Taliban regime. “A new civil war in Afghanistan is brewing. Can we reverse it?”, Modern Diplomacy, October 16, 2022.
Afghanistan Under the Taliban. Barnett R. Rubin provides his analysis of Afghanistan’s internal situation and the Taliban’s external relationships with other countries. “Afghanistan Under the Taliban: Findings on the Current Situation”, Stimson, October 20, 2022.
Mohib Chats with NRF. Hamdullah Mohib, the former National Security Advisor of the former Afghan government, had a discussion with Ahmad Masoud, the National Resistance Front leader. Topics include the current situation in Afghanistan, return of democracy, and unity among all resistance movements. (Khaama Press, Oct 15, 2022).
Video – October 19, 2001: American Special Operations Forces Invade Afghanistan, Coffee or Die Magazine, October 19, 2021, 5 minutes. U.S. Army Rangers parachuted into Afghanistan onto Objective Rhino to hit Taliban targets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWpE3my2GOE
Books about Afghanistan
Photo: Afghan Commandos in Nangarhar province, DVIDS, 11 Dec 2017.