The world is witnessing a massive tragedy unfold in Afghanistan with Taliban’s return to power after two decades and Afghan nationals in India are tremendously concerned about their future. Seeking refugee status and financial security, a large number of protesters today gathered outside the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Delhi.
Men, women, and even children, were seen holding the Afghan flag and posters to highlight their problems and demand opportunities and support for survival.
“There are women here with small children who don’t have proper education facilities. We don’t have work, we don’t have medical facilities… We are depressed,” shared Hasila, one of the protesters in the crowd.
A young student on wheelchair, Tuaha Barak, was also a part of today’s protest. “We can’t return to Afghanistan. The situation is in total chaos. The only thing I can think of is the bloodshed in my country. We don’t have a choice. We have to start afresh. We want a better future. We want resettlement, even if it means to sacrifice everything. My dream is to help my compatriots when I am able to go back home one day,” she shared.
Represented by the Afghan Solidarity Committee, the protesters, in a letter to the UN Refugee Agency, said the “situation in Afghanistan is currently deteriorating with rapid speed and harsh violence”. “Without any conditions and regulations,” the asylum seekers should be recognised as refugees, the panel urged in one of the three demands.
Appealing for financial security, the committee further said: “Due to the current situation in Afghanistan, and to the definitive closure of all kinds of incoming financial sources that Afghan refugees depended are stopped, so we want from UNHCR and its partners to full cover our essentials living facilities henceforth until we leave India.”
“We expect from UNHCR to provide support letters to those embassies which are accepting refugees based on their announcement which would cover for all Afghan refugee, and at the meantime kindly share the copies of the letters with each individual of refugees or their further reference,” the letter further read.
“We will continue our gathering here by the time we did not get our response,” the committee further stressed in the statement.
The safety of women in Afghanistan has emerged as one of the top concerns amid the crisis. Malwa Habidi from Kunduz, who was protesting outside the UNHCR office, today said, “Women are facing tremendous danger in Afghanistan. There is nothing left for us over there. I hear of horrible situations from members of my extended family.”
Zehra, whose sister is still in Kabul, came to India four years ago. “Taliban has taken over the country, the entire region is in ruins – Mulk barbad ho gya hai,” she shared.
“Our future is unclear. Most families are deep in financial troubles. Even in India, we can’t live properly. We want UNHCR to give us refugee status,” said Madiha, another protester.
After the premature decision of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in May, the South Asian country saw a rapid advancement of Taliban, which ended last week with the group’s return to power as President Ashraf Ghani left the country.
Despite criticism, US President Joe Biden has defended the move, saying that “history will remember it as the right decision”.
In visuals that have haunted the world, calling for support for locals, Afghans have been seen making desperate attempts to escape the Taliban rule.
Chaos at Kabul airport, men falling from US plane during their escape bid, and children being handed over to soldiers over barbed wires are some of the defining images that have summed up the crisis in the country.