Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.
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Princeton Alumni and Afghan Evac. A number of Princeton graduates are working with No One Left Behind to assist SIV-eligible Afghans relocate from Afghanistan to the United States. Their work began in mid-August as the Taliban were taking over the country. And their work continues to the present. “Princeton Alumni Volunteers Are Helping Allies Flee Afghanistan”, Princeton Alumni Weekly, November 2022.
Afghan Journalists in Pakistan – A Difficult Life. Living in Pakistan for some Afghan journalists is difficult. Many of them are on temporary or family visas and find it difficult to find work. There is a lot of uncertainty on their legal status once their permits expire. Some are finding it difficult to extend their visas and have a fear of jail or deportation in their future. There is currently a ‘visa amnesty’ in place until December 31, 2022 – announced by the Pakistan Ministry of Interior. After December, however, it is likely that those who overstayed a visa could have some difficulties – overstaying a visa can result in up to three years in prison. “After Fleeing Taliban, Afghan Journalists Find Visa, Money Woes”, Voice of America, November 4, 2022.
UK and Refugees. More than 100 refugee assistance organizations have written an open letter to British government officials urging a ‘kind and effective system’ for people seeking asylum in the UK. “Effective System for Asylum Seekers Demanded in Open Letter to UK Home Secretary”, The Khaama Press, October 31, 2022.
Afghan SOF – ‘Resettlement’ in Russia? Several news reports say that former Afghan special operations force members that fled to Iran are now being recruited by Russia to fight in Ukraine. Three former Afghan generals who are now in Iran are the source of this information. At this point, the U.S. government can not confirm if this is actually happening. “U.S.: Unable to confirm if Afghan commandos were recruited by Russian Wagner Group”, The Jerusalem Post, November 5, 2022.
More Afghans Arrive in Canada. In October, over 3,000 Afghan refugees arrived in Canada on charter flights that landed in Toronto and Edmonton. The refugees are coming from the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. “Another 3,150 Afghan Refugees Welcomed Towards Canada’s Goal of Resettling 40,000”, Canada Immigration News, November 3, 2022.
Afghan Woman and Future Olympic Boxer. A young woman who was a rising star on the boxing scene in Afghanistan is now renewing her quest to go to the Olympics. She managed to get on an evacuation flight in August 2021, spent months in Qatar, and then more time on a military installation in the United States. Now in Seattle, she trains nights in a gym after her day job. “Afghan woman in Seattle area fights to become Olympic boxer”, The Seattle Times, November 5, 2022.
A South American Destination? Some Afghan refugees may find themselves living in countries found south of the United States. Authorities in Guyana and Suriname have confirmed that negotiations with Washington are taking place about accepting Afghans families that the U.S. does not want to resettle in the United States. “US proposed resettling Afghan refugees in CARICOM countries”, Caribbean Life, November 4, 2022.
Afghan Family Finds Safety in Idaho. A former member of the Afghan media and his wife and son are now starting a new life in the United States. It has been a difficult journey but after several long months a church and community have rallied and are making life a little easier for them. “Afghan refugees find safety and kindness in Boone”, KPVI.com TV, November 4, 2022.
News About Afghanistan
ICC Inquiry Into Crimes in Afghanistan. The International Criminal Court has decided that the investigation into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan can resume. The investigation had begun in March 2020, but then was paused at the request of the former Afghan government. Now that the Taliban have taken over Afghanistan, the ICC judges have authorized the prosecutor’s office to begin the investigation once again. Read more in “ICC: Afghanistan Inquire Can Resume”, Human Rights Watch, October 31, 2022.
Former Green Beret Writes Poetry Book on Afghanistan. Ryan Stoval, a former U.S. Army Special Forces medic now living in Maine, has wrote a book of poetry about his three combat tours in Afghanistan. His new book, Black Snowflakes Smothering a Torch, is meant to help people learn how to better understand and interact with those who have been through war. “Former Green Beret wants his poetry to serve as a manual for talking to veterans”, Press Herald, November 6, 2022.
IEAF – Operational. The Islamic Emirate Air Force (IEAF) continues to exist as a functional air force. This, despite the U.S. military disabling scores of aircraft during its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 and Afghan Air Force pilots flying their aircraft to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in mid-August 2021. Read more on the current status of the IEF in “Far From Finished: The Islamic Emirate Air Force”, ORYX, November 4, 2022.
Life Under the Taliban
Afghan Media Persecuted. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is reporting that after the collapse of the Afghan regime in August 2021 that more than 200 human rights abuses took place against Afghan reporters. This includes arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment, threats, and intimidation. “UNAMA: ‘200’ Cases of Violations of Rights of Afghan Reporters”, Tolo News, November 2, 2022.
Afghan Women’s Movement for Equality News Conference Disrupted. The Taliban put a stop to a event intended to announce the formation of a new organization to advance women’s rights in Afghanistan. “UN Concerned Over Arrests at Kabul News Conference to Announce Women’s Movement for Equality”, Gandara Blog, November 4, 2022.
Female Doctor’s. In a surprising move, the Taliban are actively supporting women in their quest for advanced educational training. Training female doctors and nurses is part of the Taliban agenda to provide essential services while building a society structured on gender segregation. “The Taliban wants to segregate women. So it’s training female doctors”, The Washington Post, November 5, 2022. (subscription).
ANDSF Hunted by Taliban. Since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have been hunted by the Taliban. Many former ANDSF members have been detained or killed. “Terrorists Welcomed, While Afghan Security Forces Hunted”, by Jason Criss Howk, ClearanceJobs, November 4, 2022.
Revenge Targeting in Southern Afghanistan. Members of the Pashtun Achakzai tribe have been killed, tortured, detained, and ‘disappeared’ by the Taliban since their August 2021 takeover of the country. Many of them were former members of the Spin Boldac border force or the Kandahar police. Both organizations were led by the late General Raziq before he was assassinated. “Afghanistan is Hell: Supporters of Late General Claim Taliban Killings, Persecution”, Gandhara Blog, November 2, 2022.
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
Opium Production Increases. The 2022 opium crop has seen cultivation rise by one third and soaring prices for the harvest. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that 2022 saw the third largest area under cultivation since monitoring began. “Afghanistan: Opium cultivation up nearly a third, warns UNODC”, UN News, November 1, 2022.
No Work Available. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is warning that the situation in Afghanistan will worsen in the coming winter. The country is in the grips of an increasing humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and are having difficulty in surviving. “ICRC: 700,000 people have lost their jobs in Afghanistan in the past year”, Ariana News, November 4, 2022.
Costly Medicine. Most medicine is imported from Turkey and Pakistan. In the past a lot of medicine was imported from India but this has dropped off. The prices of medicine has increased by as much as 50%. “Kabul Residents Concerned About High Price of Medicine”, Tolo News, November 3, 2022.
Commentary, Podcasts, and Events
Pakistan’s Support to Taliban – Past and Present. Relying on Pakistan to fight extremists in Afghanistan will only exacerbate the threat of terrorism worldwide. Pakistan supported the Taliban during the U.S. 20-year long involvement in the Afghan conflict. It continues to support the Afghan regime now. “Pakistan’s Duplicity in Afghanistan Has No Limit”, National Interest, October 30, 2022.
Afghanistan Assessment. Barnett R. Rubin analyzes the current situation in Afghanistan and comes up with some observations to share. “14 months later: Five conclusions on Afghanistan withdrawal”, Responsible Statecraft, November 5, 2022.
Washington’s Political Settlement. By the time the United States started pushing for a political settlement with the Taliban for the Afghan conflict, it was years too late. There are some lessons that can be learned from this failure. “In Afghanistan, Was a Loss Better than Peace?”, by Kate Bateman, United States Institute of Peace, November 3, 2022.
Online Event – 9 Nov 2022. A panel discussion is scheduled for the review of a book entitled The Pashtuns: A Contested History. The Pashtuns are perhaps the largest ethnic group in the world without a country of their own. This book provides a geopolitical understanding of South Asia and the shifting power equations in the region. Observer Research Foundation.
Podcast – Extreme Vetting. The Lawfare Blog presents a podcast describing the difficulties of an interpreter navigating the bureaucratic nightmare of the U.S. State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process. Allies, Lawfare, YouTube, 40 minutes.
Books about Afghanistan
Photo: Marine Corps Capt. Serena Simeoli, assigned to the Female Engagement Team, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, assists Afghan evacuees with creating resumes at Fort Pickett, Va., Jan. 18, 2022. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David Intriago.