Forty-five people from the city of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), including twenty-five students, of Afghan origin or Franco-Afghan bi-nationals and who had left for Afghanistan for the two-month vacation, are stuck in Kabul, according to Franceinfo, which learned the information Friday, September 3 from the town hall of Rennes.
The children were identified in connection with the families of the Afghan community, specified the town hall to Franceinfo. “We haven’t seen the situation change so quickly. We were trapped by the rapid capture of Kabul by the Taliban “, testifies at the microphone of the radio Shah Ahmadi, a Rennes native of Afghan origin who was on vacation in Kabul and was able to return before the end of the airlift, and who is in frequent contact with the stranded families.
Among them, some are binational, others hold a regular residence permit. Most of them tried to reach the airport, according to Ahmadi. “But at the entrance there were the Taliban who wouldn’t let anyone through. “ According to him, “The French forces had nothing planned to prevent these Taliban from the arrival of these families who reside in France. At the entrance to the airport, there was no one to greet them. ”
“After the stopping of the airlift, we had no more news”, he worries. The fears are all the greater for young girls who are between 12 and 14 years old, “Who are on social networks and know the risks they run if they ever stay in Afghanistan, especially forced marriages”.
An “abandonment” denounced by some humanitarian workers
Between dismay and incomprehension, humanitarians and aid workers wonder about the criteria that prevailed for the evacuation of Afghans to France after the fall of Kabul at the hands of the Taliban, some even denouncing a “Abandonment” of their colleagues.
As soon as Kabul was captured in mid-August, the NGO Afghanistan Libre, which works for the education of girls, for example alerted the Quai d’Orsay crisis center to the threat weighing on its employees. “We sent by e-mail a first list of twenty-three people from our staff and their families to be evacuated as a priority”, testifies Louise Clément, director of the organization, who affirms not to have “Never had any feedback, if only to acknowledge receipt of the e-mail”, despite his attempt to reach the crisis center by phone for five days. “We are in the misunderstanding (…). It’s just unbearable not to have an answer ”, she continues, specifying not to have been contacted since and not to have been able to evacuate any of her collaborators.
France has evacuated more than 2,600 Afghans threatened by the Taliban for having worked for it or for having defended human rights in their country.
Afghanistan Libre was at the forefront of a subject as sensitive as women’s rights. One of its school principals was kidnapped on August 10 in Paghman province, near Kabul. “He was tortured for two days, they questioned him about all the NGO’s projects and told him to convey the message that she was identified as anti-Islam, a spy for France”, says Louise Clément.
In an open letter to the French Ambassador to Afghanistan, David Martinon, a group of former French cooperation expatriates also deplores that their Afghan colleagues employed before 2018 were not included on the list of people to be evacuated.
In the spring, fearing the threatening advance of the Taliban, these former employees had already contacted the French embassy to apply for visas, but say they received an objection, because not having worked for France “In 2018 and after”. “This criterion seemed arbitrary before the capture of Kabul (August 15). After that, it became incomprehensible and discriminating, meaning their abandonment ”, denounce the signatories of the letter. “None of our colleagues have ever been contacted. No response was given to our requests by the responsible authorities ”, they continue.
“Lack of readability” of evacuation criteria
Agence France-Presse (AFP) was able to speak to several of these former employees: all of them worked between four and thirteen years for French projects, as driver, computer scientist, teacher. Among them, some are from the Hazara minority, which was persecuted by the Taliban. Today the “Forgotten” most of France live in hiding at home in the face of possible retaliation from the Taliban.
In a column published in The world, a group of humanitarian officials, researchers and journalists, for its part, deplores a “Profound lack of readability in the criteria for constituting evacuation lists”. “It is the best connected Afghans who were able to obtain their pass”, they point out, deploring a “True networking race”.
“The promised access to the airport was only possible for those who had the resources (…). You had to speak English, have a passport, sometimes even money to pay the Taliban, and contacts abroad. “
The French foreign ministry, interviewed by AFP, said on Friday that it had recorded “All reports” that had been transmitted to him. “The emergency evacuations were dependent on very operational criteria linked in particular to the extreme difficulties of access to the Kabul airport” during the airlift, says the Quai d’Orsay.
the “Degree of imminence of risk” for people in danger has been taken into account, according to the ministry, but without always being able to guarantee their evacuation “In the emergency and the physical chaos at the gates”.
The reopening of the airport, priority
The priority now is to reopen Kabul airport, closed since the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan on August 31, and to set up humanitarian operations to help the thousands of Afghans who still want to leave. In this perspective, “The criteria for constituting the lists must be clarified and the eligible categories broadened”, insists the collective in the column published by The world.
Having become the privileged interlocutor of the Taliban, Qatar was, on Wednesday, the first foreign country to land a plane on the tarmac since the departure of the last senior American officials. Qatari diplomacy is working on its reopening ” as soon as possible “, she asserted. “We hope to see in the next twenty-four or forty-eight hours the opening of humanitarian corridors so that humanitarian aid can enter through Kabul airport and other functioning airports”Foreign Ministry Special Envoy Mutlaq Al-Qahtani told Al-Jazeera television from Afghanistan. The emirate confirmed on Thursday that it was working hard to resume technical operations of airport structures.
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