Afghans in Qatar share hopes and fears after fleeing the Taliban

Doha, Qatar – Inside a muted-grey, nondescript compound within the Qatari capital of Doha, pressing efforts are beneath method to make sure the fast security of a whole lot of Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban and to safe their future.

Since the Taliban overran the Afghan navy and authorities a few week in the past, the worldwide airport within the Afghan capital of Kabul has been crowded and chaotic with individuals determined to flee Afghanistan.

Many fear the Taliban’s hardline interpretation of Islamic legislation will come on the expense of ladies’s rights and freedom of expression.

Some lived via a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and they’re risking all the pieces to flee so they don’t have to dwell via it once more.

The fast tempo of occasions has led to Qatar taking a vital position in two separate evacuation processes.

As a part of a United States-led and managed evacuation course of, Qatar is briefly accommodating 6,000 Afghans in its Al Udeid and As Sayliyah navy bases till the US can resettle them.

A second evacuation scheme is a Qatar-led course of from begin to end. The majority of the refugees will seemingly be resettled overseas, although some could stay in Qatar.

The first step takes place in Qatar’s embassy in Kabul, which stays open and functioning. A screening course of takes place earlier than Afghans in search of to flee the nation can safe permission to travel to Doha.

So far about 800 individuals have been processed via this plan; most are feminine college students, households with children, or journalists.

Lolwah Rashid Mohammed al-Khater, Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, has personally overseen the plan from a room within the compound dubbed the “operation room” or “control centre”.

The compound has a health care provider on web site 24 hours a day, entry to PCR checks, and day by day occasions for teenagers – with an ice-cream stand that opens day by day at 5pm.

“This is a process handled from A to Z; we make sure it is as safe as possible,” al-Khater informed Al Jazeera.

“Currently this compound is almost at capacity; it hosts around 500-plus people. We are preparing another compound as a contingency plan, and it’s expected to house even more people.”

The model new compound is considered one of a number of constructed as lodging earlier than Qatar internet hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Some of the refugees staying on the compound shared their experiences of fleeing Afghanistan and their hopes for the longer term.

‘This is a process handled from A to Z; we make sure it is as safe as possible,’ Lolwah Rashid Mohammed al-Khater mentioned [Showkat Shafi-Al Jazeera]

‘All our rights are gone’

At residence 21, Al Jazeera was greeted by a girl who agreed to inform her story. She shortly ushered us in to flee the unforgiving summer time warmth outdoors.

She apologised that the room was not as tidy as she would love it to be as her husband shortly put fruits and water on the desk for the friends. To conceal her identification, she selected to make use of the identify “Mariam”.

In Afghanistan, she was an entry and illustration advocate for individuals with disabilities, particularly ladies. She labored immediately with numerous non-governmental organisations.

Her husband was a dentist. He confirmed off footage on his telephone of circumstances he labored on, displaying dramatic earlier than and after photographs of individuals’s smiles. They have three children.

Afghan refugee youngsters line up for ice cream at a residential compound in Qatar [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

As Mariam’s household watched province after province fall to the Taliban, her households’ fear for her security grew. One morning Mariam had arrange a whole breakfast unfold on the primary desk however she had reached a breaking level of fear; the household made a touch to Kabul airport with only one additional outfit for every of her youngsters. The meals remained untouched on the desk.

Mariam’s household tried to enter Kabul airport for 3 consecutive days however had been unable because of the chaos. She had accomplished the required documentation and knew her identify was on an evacuation checklist, and ultimately managed to efficiently plead with Taliban members on patrol near the airport to let her cross.  

Despite lastly getting on a flight to Doha together with her household, Mariam feels a level of guilt. She has already heard tales of feminine buddies again home turned away by the Taliban from their office or those that fear going out in public beneath the brand new rulers.

“The Taliban separate women from society. We cannot have a developed society without the contribution of women,” Mariam mentioned.

“One of my friend’s [Facebook] posts said we [women] died already. All of our rights are gone.”

Mariam fears all of the work she has accomplished in Afghanistan can be scrapped now that the Taliban is in energy. She insists what the group says in public is totally different from what it practises on the bottom.

There have been experiences of the Taliban conducting door-to-door searches searching for individuals who have labored with the earlier authorities or international entities.

“The Taliban have changed, but they are not better,” she mentioned.

“Before they killed people who worked with the government and NGOs. Now they are doing the same thing but not showing the world.”

‘We left everything’

In one other block within the compound, a gaggle of seven ladies of their late teenagers to early 20s share an residence. They are among the many 167 feminine college students who dwell within the compound.

Some met once they arrived in Doha, others had been classmates again in Afghanistan. Three agree to talk beneath anonymity, as all have households nonetheless attempting to get in a foreign country. They select the names Grace, Ayshia, and Nimaar.

“We left everything, all of our past, all of our memories,” Grace mentioned. “Everything that we did in the whole 20 years [of our lives] just passed like a second right in front of our eyes.”

Most of the younger Afghan ladies say they want to pursue additional training to assist themselves and their nation [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

The group projected a powerful and assured voice when talking of their experiences, one thing they are saying the Taliban fears.

Grace mentioned open-minded and educated individuals pose an oblique menace to the Taliban, and that she wouldn’t take their reassurances at face worth.

“They will do anything to stop confident women. They are scared of us because we are the generation that grew up in the 21st century,” Grace mentioned.

The younger ladies are keen to debate their targets and ambitions regardless of a dinner supply sitting on the desk for the final 30 minutes getting chilly. Most say they wish to pursue additional training to assist themselves and their nation.

As our group leaves, we jokingly ask: “So who’s the mother-hen of the house? Who keeps you all in check?”

Ayshia shortly responds, with a playful smile: “No one, we are all leaders.”

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