Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.
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Arrests in Pakistan. Refugee rights activists say that the Pakistani police have stepped up detentions of Afghan refugees. Many of them are being held in Karachi and Sindh jails. According to the UNHCR, around 1.3 million Afghan refugees are based in Pakistan. “Over 1,250 Refugees Detained by Pakistan Police in Nearly 40 Days”, Tolo News, November 8, 2022.
ABA Helping Evacuees Stuck in EHC. The American Bar Association has been engaged in an effort to help Afghan judges, lawyers, and others who escaped Afghanistan and who found themselves sheltered as refugees in the Emirate Humanitarian City in the United Arab Emirates. The ABA has connected Afghan evacuees with pro bono attorneys and has helped hundreds of Afghan evacuees. The Afghan evacuee population at EHC has dropped from 14,000 to about 4,000 (maybe even less). “ABA helps find permanent homes for Afghan evacuees stuck in Abu Dhabi, other parts of the world”, ABA Journal, November 10, 2022.
CIA’s Team Alpha and Helping Afghans Evacuate. Two decades after fighting in the first big battle of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, a CIA veteran is coming to the aid of former Afghan comrades before the Taliban hunts them down. (NBC News, Nov 11, 2022)
U.S. and Afghan Refugees in Pakistan. There are a lot of Afghans who are currently in Pakistan waiting to be resettled to the United States under the P1/P2 program. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of movement on for these Afghans. The program has been called ‘sluggish’ by most volunteers of the Afghan Evac community. The Charge d’Affaires of the US Mission to Afghanistan, Karen Decker, visited Pakistan on November 8th, presumably to learn more of the plight of Afghan refugees in that country. (Khaama Press, Nov 8, 2022).
Book – Saving Aziz. Chad Robichaux and other U.S. military veterans of the Afghan war provided evacuation assistance to thousands of Afghans during the Kabul non-combatant operation of August 2021. Their work continued into the fall of 2021 and beyond. Chad’s interpreter was one of the first that they rescued from the Taliban. His book Saving Aziz tells the story of the behind-the-scenes view of the evacuation effort during a historic humanitarian crisis. “Alum Recounts Rescue Mission in Afghanistan in New Book”, New York Tech News, November 9, 2022.
Belgium – A Cold Reception. The current situation in Belgium has Afghans in legal limbo and there are concerns of where they will be sheltered. “Reception Crisis”, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, November 11, 2022.
Keeping Our Promise Receives Grant. An organization that is assisting Afghan refugees resettle in the United States has received a $50,000 grant from the Gannett Foundation. The Keeping Our Promise organization provides comprehensive resettlement assistance to endangered wartime allies who served U.S. interests in conflict and war zones. (Democrat & Chronicle, Nov 7, 2022).
News About Afghanistan
Zan Times. An Afghan Canadian journalist has launched a new media outlet, Zan Times, that covers human rights in Afghanistan with a focus on women, the LGBT community, and environmental issues. “Afghan journalist Zahra Nader: Creating a platform for Afghan women’s voices to be heard”, UN Women, November 9, 2022.
ISIS-K – Now a Regional Threat. Evidence suggests that the Islamic State of Khorsan Province has been spreading its influence and tentacles across West, Central, and South Asia. Although the Taliban have been downplaying the danger of ISIS-K the reality is that it isn’t going away soon. ISIS-K is now a transnational group with fighters from Central and South Asia as well as the Middle East. Read a comprehensive essay in “Islamic State – Khorasan’s Transition Into a Transregional Threat”, by Atal Ahmadzai, The Diplomat, November 11, 2022.
Russian’s Afghanistan Talks. Multilateral talks will take place in mid-November to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Envoys from China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan with attend the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan. The Taliban were not invited. “Russia to Host Multilateral Talks on Afghanistan November 16”, Voice of America, November 9, 2022.
Life Under the Taliban
Women – No More Gym Time. The Taliban regime has now decided that women may not visit gyms or public parks. According to a spokesman from the Ministry of Virtue and Vice the ban has been introduced because people were ignoring the gender segregation orders and women were not wearing head scarfs. (ABC.net.au, Nov 11, 2022).
Surveillance Cameras. More surveillance cameras will be installed throughout Kabul. There are already 2,000 cameras in place. “Kabul Security Command Installing Surveillance Cameras in Capital“, Tolo News, November 11, 2022.
Taliban and Persecution of Women. Afghanistan’s rulers are increasing restrictions against women and girls in Afghanistan. These new restrictions by the Taliban have been prompted by a very vocal women’s campaign against the Taliban’s treatment of women. “Taliban Escalate New Abuses Against Afghan Women and Girls”, Ms. Magazine, November 8, 2022. Read also “Beaten and Humiliated: Taliban Cracks Down on Afghan Universities in Bid to Curb Women’s Protests”, Gandhara Blog, November 8, 2022.
Underground Schools for Girls. The Taliban have banned secondary education for young girls in Afghanistan. However, some are going to classes – but in very private settings. “Where learning is against the law: A secret school for Afghan girls”, by Sudarsan Raghavan, The Washington Post, November 9, 2022. (subscription).
Afghanistan and Body Building. Women are no longer allowed in Kabul’s gyms, but the workout facilities are still busy with men pumping barbells. Bodybuilding in Afghanistan has a complicated history; having experienced a growth in participation after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. It has become a very popular national sport. Surprisingly, the many gyms have not been shuttered by the Taliban . . . at least not yet. “Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Pursuit of Muscle”, Men’s Health, November 11, 2022.
Crime, Terrorism, and Economic Ruin. A large spike in opium production is contributing to a rise in crime in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban have taken power the country is experiencing more volatility. Organized crime and and terrorist organizations are thriving once again. (UN News, November 11, 2022).
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
Afghani Banknotes Arrive. A Polish firm has delivered newly printing banknotes to Da Afghanistan Bank. The Central Bank will now being able to replace old and damaged banknotes. Most of the economy in Afghanistan is run on a cash basis. The notes total 10 billion Afghanis – mostly in small denominations. They will be used to replace old notes, not to fund the budget. “Afghanistan’s central bank gets shipment of new banknotes”, Ariana News, November 10, 2022.
Afghanistan’s Economic Nightmare. Despite the supply and delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, the people continue to experience acute food insecurity and economic tensions. The country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is projected to contract even further. A lack of jobs, food shortages, drought, and other factors continue to worsen the Afghan economic situation. “Is There a Way Out of Afghanistan’s Economic Nightmare”, by Masom Jan Masomy, National Interest, November 6, 2022.
Winter Kits by IOM. The International Organization for Migration is providing aid to impoverished Afghans who are at risk due to the upcoming harsh winter season. The IOM support will be coordinated through the United Nations, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the British Foreign Office. “Winter is Coming; IOM Provides Winter Kits”, Khaama Press, November 7, 2022.
Mes-Aynak Project. There is the possibility that over 20,000 Afghans may soon be employed working the in the extraction of minerals. The Mes Aynak copper mine, located in the northeastern area of Logar province, could be up and running again. “Work on Mes-Aynak to Begin Soon”, Tolo News, November 7, 2022.
TAPI Pipeline Update. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that efforts are underway to begin work within the next four months on the TAPI pipeline. The pipeline will transit the countries of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI). One of the delays is that land owners don’t want to give up the rights to their land. The pipeline would pass through the Afghan provinces of Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand, and Kandahar. “Work on TAPI Pipeline to Begin Soon”, Tolo News, November 5, 2022.
Commentary, Events, and Books
Book – Without Borders: The Haqqani Network and the Road to Kabul. Read the story of the origins, political awakening, and rise of the Haqqani Network and the Haqqani Mujahideen. They were America’s allies in the Afghan-Soviet war, fought the U.S. after 2001, and are now one of the most powerful jihadist groups in the world. Read more here.
Panel Discussion on Afghanistan. On Thursday, November 17th, Public Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) will hold a panel discussion about the Taliban government, their policies on gender, and how they relate to minorities in the Afghan society. The panel will discuss how the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is organized, how they govern, and more. This panel event is part of the Afghanistan Week 2022 program.
Pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. Penelope Dexenjaeger, a Veteran Service Officer for the American Legion, argues that passing the Afghan Adjustment Act would give Afghan evacuees a path to permanent legal status in the United States. “Congress needs to do right by our Afghan allies”, The Hill, November 11, 2022.
House Hearings. One outcome of a Republican party control of the House of Representatives is that hearings may take place about the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation. The hearings are likely to be wide-ranging – touching on topics like moral injury, the fallout of the Afghan withdrawal, what money the U.S. is currently providing to the Taliban regime, and the Department of State’s dismal handling of the Special Immigrant Visa program. Whether the house has a Republican or Democrat majority; what is known is that there is usually a lot of ‘political posturing’. Hopefully, the politics will be set aside for a true accounting of the Afghan withdrawal. “What an Afghanistan Hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives Might Cover”, Clearance Jobs, November 10, 2022. See also “GOP signals new Afghanistan probe”, Axios, November 7, 2022.
Books about Afghanistan
Photo: Air Force Col. Meredith Seeley walks alongside an Afghan evacuee at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., Jan 13, 2022. Photo by Army Pfc. Anthony Sanchez