Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, Daud has had to move house three times. He and his family went from refuge to refuge, like many others in Afghanistan, to escape the Taliban forces who took control of their city and declared the country under their control.
“I didn’t feel that my family and I were safe, especially when I heard the news that the The Taliban went from house to house, looking for people who have worked for government, embassies and NGOs. I feel like everything is screwed up: my future, my past, my country, my people, my dreams, ”Daud told VICE World News. Daud’s name has been changed for his protection.
Now the 26-year-old lives in an undisclosed location, separate from his parents, who are in another safe house.
Daud is one of many Afghans hiding from Taliban forces since the Islamic fundamentalist group toppled the US-backed government on Sunday. Many of those in hiding worked for the government or are employees of companies that worked with foreign contractors. This fear was exacerbated by a UN report however, the Taliban are carrying out door-to-door raids.
Daud worked for an Afghan company registered in the United States. The company has worked with the U.S. military, NATO, and relevant embassies, but Daud says he was not in that division. Despite this, he is still the target of the Taliban.
This technicality – of working for an American company, but not directly on military projects – means that Daud is stuck in Afghanistan.
“The only way to leave the country is to leave illegally. But it’s too risky, ”said Daud. “I have asked so many authorities. Most of them ask if we have worked on US military projects. Most of them from the US, UK and Germany ask if we have worked directly with them. Since I did not do this, I am not eligible [for evacuation]. “
Daud said he applied for an Indian visa this week, but has yet to receive a response. “I’m more scared than yesterday. I am also preparing to leave this refuge and hopefully leave the country. But even if they (Indian Embassy) issue visas, I couldn’t leave. Even though I have a passport, my parents and my sister don’t.
Daud and his family have been targeted by the Taliban since the start of this year. On one occasion, he said, an unidentified gunman opened fire on him and his father while they were driving. Bullets hit their vehicle, but luckily no one was injured.
In July, Daud received a phone call to his office from an unknown number. The voice on the line told him to go immediately to the offices of the National Security Intelligence Center. “There, a man whom I did not recognize handed me a letter and asked me to leave immediately. I came home confused and opened the letter.
From the letter, Daud learned that intelligence reports had identified a threat against him and his father. “I was targeted for my work with the company. He said his father was targeted because Daud’s siblings studied abroad and were falsely accused by the Taliban of spreading Christianity.
After learning of the Taliban threat, Daud quit his job with the company registered in the United States and began looking for countries where he could seek refuge, including Sri Lanka and Canada.
“I thought it would be easy. I sent a letter to the Sri Lankan embassy in Kabul, but they said they closed the visa application until further notice. I also heard that ‘They could kick us out at the airport, so I couldn’t find an easy way to reach Sri Lanka, and that’s a risk I can’t take.
To date, Sri Lanka has granted temporary asylum to around 150 Afghan refugees, many of whom have been in the country since 2015. Its government has yet to announce whether it will welcome any new refugees.
Earlier this week, as the Taliban moved closer, thousands of Afghans lined up for passports hoping for a chance to flee, fearing that their freedoms would be lost under the Taliban regime. The passport service remains closed. Others completely skipped this step and headed straight for the airport. Since then, poignant scenes have emerged of young Afghans chasing planes across the tarmac and desperately clinging to U.S. military planes as the plane took off. Several died after hanging onto planes and falling from the sky.
“Help us,” Daud asked the international community. “Make the visa process easier. Send more planes to pick up the civilians who are in danger. Don’t let the Taliban do what they want.
Daud said Afghanistan’s neighbors, or any other country, should open their borders to asylum seekers. “It is their fundamental right to find safe shelter. The situation is unstable. My life is in the hands of people who have never seen [Kabul] All their life. Anyone can be killed at any time.
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