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Friday, May 27, 2022

“Completely Lost”: For some Afghans, returning home is as difficult as fleeing

NEW DELHI. Afghans in India staged protests, moved from office to office, and pleaded with relatives around the world to chip in on plane tickets. They only had one flight to take them home to a country captured by the Taliban since they left.

None of them had any doubts about what awaited them in Afghanistan: economic hardship, the loss of fundamental freedoms, and even the possibility of persecution. But the connection with home cannot always be explained by the cold logic of calculating risks. A house, no matter how burned or broken, triggers compulsive actions that can pull you down. while thousands are desperate to leave.

Among those listed in the manifesto for a flight from Delhi to Kabul earlier this month were cancer patients who had run out of money for treatment and who wanted to stay on their land if they died. They saw how difficult it is to transport the bodies of those who died in one country, but wanted to be buried in another, across the borders of a divided region.

The group included parents separated from young children for almost two months, adult children separated from dying parents. There were newborn babies without citizenship at birth.

“My father is in a wheelchair in Kabul,” said Mohamed Yassin Nuri, a former government official, before boarding the Iranian Mahan Air flight through Tehran to Afghanistan. “My worry about being separated from him will end. But then something else worries me: what happens next? “

Mr. Nuri arrived in India with his sister, who has breast cancer, just five days before Kabul was captured by the Taliban on 15 August. Even though they were in a rush to complete her tests and physiotherapy and return home to Mr. Nuri’s father, they still could not beat the pace. things that fell apart at home.

“If he had been here with us, I would not have returned,” Nuri said of his father.

Much of the work of bringing stranded Afghans home is done by the Afghan Embassy in New Delhi. The flag of the old government flies over the ghostly complex, and portraits of former leaders hang on the walls.

Farid Mamundzai, an ambassador who lost his government in just six months of work, said there are about 150,000 Afghans in India as a whole, including Hindus and minority Sikhs who have relocated due to terrorist threats, and about 15,000 university students. … About 2,000 Afghans are in desperate need of returning home, and thousands more need new passports that he cannot provide.

“Statelessness makes you a diplomatically worthless mission,” Mamundzai said of his embassy.

The ambassador said his staff, who went to work for the “humanitarian and consular mission,” were unpaid for months, surviving on the remaining money in the embassy divided between them. One of the main factors prompting the staff to stay was the ambassador’s promise to find places to relocate their families. But Mr. Mamundzai was not sure if he could keep the doors open for more than a few months.

“It would be a great injustice to these people if we closed the mission and abandoned them in foreign countries,” said Mr. Mamundzai.

The 106 Afghans who flew home on the first flight were not only the most pressing matters, but people who could afford a $ 850 ticket. So far, three flights have been performed, on which 350 people have returned.

The embassy’s biggest problem right now is what to do with those who cannot afford plane tickets but keep knocking on the mission door.

Most stranded Afghans rent small rooms in a refugee area called Lajpat Nagar; many of them ran out of money a few weeks ago and are unable to pay the paltry rent.

“The owner says he will take my passport,” said Khan Mohammed, an Afghan police officer who arrived in Delhi a few weeks before the Taliban came to power. “I told him that I wouldn’t bring you any money — instead, you should take my life because I’m tired of it.”

After working under contract with the US military and failing to find a migrant trail to Europe, Mr. Mohammed joined the police force about five years ago with a monthly salary of about $ 200. A year later, he was ambushed by the Taliban.

The war left him with a missing jaw and more than $ 30,000 in medical bills over the four years he tried to fix it.

“I am completely lost,” said Mr. Mohammed, who twice said he tried to commit suicide.

Relying on her savings as a cook for 20 years at the local UN office in northern Afghanistan, Tahera Nuri came to Delhi hoping to cure her heart problem, her grandson’s paralyzed legs and her second grandson’s bleeding ear.

Doctors in Delhi gave Ms. Nuri a different diagnosis: she has ovarian cancer. Disadvantaged and threatened with eviction, her daughter gave birth to her third child.

Ms. Nuri told the embassy staff that she and hundreds of others like her could not afford air tickets. She pleaded with them to take her and her family back to Afghanistan en route across the guarded border of India with Pakistan.

“I will go across the border with Pakistan even if they shoot me,” Ms. Nuri pleaded.

Pakistan initially showed willingness to issue transit visas for 25 Afghans every week, but in recent weeks that number has dropped to just a few, the Afghan ambassador said. A Pakistani mission official in New Delhi said that since the fall of Kabul, they have issued transit visas to some 50 Afghans and are continuing to process other requests on an individual basis.

For some, the transition, forbidden in life, came only after death.

When their mother died of respiratory illness in a hospital in Delhi, Maryam and her brother spent two weeks shuttling between the Pakistani mission to apply for visas, the Indian government to obtain permits, and the Afghan embassy to help process these requests.

At night, siblings survived on instant noodles and slept in cramped quarters. During the day, they went to the morgue to ask for an extension so that their mother’s body would remain there.

The family’s trip to India was supposed to be a happy moment for both mother and daughter.

Maryam, once a young bride, earned a living from her new job as a lawyer and savings from selling pine nuts to pay for the treatment of her mother, whose suffering began long before her attacks of tuberculosis and COVID-19. 19. Like her daughter, she was a bride who lost her first husband in the war while pregnant.

Maryam once worked as an office cleaner during the day, raised three children, and attended evening literacy classes to finish high school. After graduating in law six months ago, she landed a job defending victims of abuse in one of the most conservative areas of southeastern Afghanistan.

When Kabul fell, Maryam thought about sending her mother and brother home, while she remained to explore options for shelter. She faced threats because of her work even before the Taliban; one colleague was killed outside the apartment building in which they all lived.

“If I return, I know that I may return to my own death,” said Maryam, who is only called by name to protect her identity.

But when her mother died on September 26, Maryam had only one choice: to take her remains home, no matter what.

Late last night, the siblings loaded their mother into a rented ambulance, washed her body in a funeral home, and drove overnight to get to the Indian border with Pakistan. From there, it took two more days of travel – a transfer between three ambulances, additional paperwork, and another border crossing – before she was buried in southeastern Afghanistan.

If there was any consolation for Maryam, it was that their ordeal in India was over – that their mother would achieve her eternal rest and that Maryam would be reunited with her young children.

“My youngest daughter fell ill after me,” Maryam said before they left. “Every day she counts planes in the sky.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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