Monday, September 27

Afghans who worked for Spain ask the government for help: “The Taliban go through the houses to kill us”

They are Afghan engineers, cleaners, doctors, clerks or drivers who between 2005 and 2013 worked for Spanish cooperation in Badghis, one of the poorest and most remote provinces in the country, and now, after the return to power of the Taliban, are in danger for having been linked at some point to the allied powers that intervened in Afghanistan 2001. More than a hundred of these former workers of the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID) and their families have been displaced to Kabul in recent days from more of some thirty provinces with the hope of being able to leave the country. Since then, and after unsuccessfully trying to access the airport, refugees are waiting in hotels for a call from the Spanish authorities that does not arrive.

Albares assures that there are already many countries working to remove more Afghans but avoids giving details

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This desperate situation led them last Saturday to write to the Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares. In the letter, of just over 300 words, they ask to be evacuated to save their lives and those of their relatives, including their young children. “Before, as employees of the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID) we were known in our province of Badghis, but our presence in Kabul in recent days has exposed us to the whole country and especially to the Taliban. Now we face to a more imminent threat than ever, “says that text, to which has had access.

“Right now we are in a really bad situation, we cannot go to our province. If we go, the Taliban will kill us. When we were in our province they threatened us and we were forced to leave. They go to our houses at night to search. to the people who worked for the government and kill them, “says Taiyiba, one of the women who worked in an AECID project on domestic chicken farming and who has traveled from Badghis to Kabul. On the other end of the phone, his voice sounds desperate. She has no money to pay for the hotel she is hiding in in Kabul, but she fears that if she returns to her home province the Taliban will come after her. Taiyiba is a widow, has two dependent daughters and a single sister.

In Kabul, hotel and guest house rates have multiplied by up to three times in recent weeks, a price that is not affordable for most families, one of those former Spanish cooperation workers tells that asks not to be identified for fear of retaliation. “There are families who are living in parks and others who only use their relatives’ houses to sleep and spend the rest of the day outside. Returning to their places of origin is also a challenge in terms of security. We know how hard they worked. the Government of Spain to get as many people as possible. But fortune was not on the side of some of us, who have been left behind, “laments this man, who worked in the Badghis mission.

“We are ready to receive further instructions for the evacuation (…). We hope that the Spanish Government will take our request into consideration,” continues in the letter sent to the minister. Many of these Afghan nationals tried unsuccessfully for days to access the airport through Abbey Gate, the south gate of the airport where the first detonation of last Thursday’s attack occurred that killed almost 200 people and caused the evacuation process to be halted since that time. access. The son of a former AECID employee died in this attack, according to The confidential and confirmed

Most of them tried to access the aerodrome provided with safe-conducts issued by the Spanish Foreign Ministry, but the crowds of people prevented them from entering the aerodrome. Others complain that, despite having these certificates, the soldiers did not let them pass because their names were not on the famous evacuee lists.

The government, which last Friday ended the evacuation “mission” due to the worsening security conditions and after having been able to bring 2,206 Afghans to Spain, claims to be looking for “other ways” to evacuate more collaborators. “These people have not been left behind because the operation is not closed. These people have to know that the Government of Spain remains committed to them,” Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said in Congress on Monday. Regarding the letter and the specific situation of the former AECID collaborators, a Foreign Ministry spokesman confirms its reception to and assures that “all the possibilities” are being seen, although he acknowledges that any route will be “complicated”.

“We are all in danger”

Meanwhile, the former employees of the Spanish cooperation who remain in Afghanistan fear that this response from the Spanish authorities, if it ever comes, will make it late for them. Sayed FS, an agricultural engineer who worked in the AECID rural development program between 2009 and 2012, claims to be under the spotlight of the Taliban. “There are no options for me. They knocked on our doors twice and I changed my location several times. We are all in danger,” he writes on WhatsApp from Kabul, where he is sheltering in the home of a brother with his wife and five children . One of them, aged four, became dehydrated after spending three nights near the airport. “The coordination of the Spanish soldiers was mediocre. They did not let many people who had passes because they were not on the lists,” he laments.

From a small hotel room in Kabul speaks Dr. Ghulam RA, a dermatologist trained in Afghanistan and Germany who coordinated the health projects that the Spanish cooperation deployed in the city of Qala i Naw, where the hospital was expanded and equipped, a new one was built maternal and child pavilion and a unit for the care of malnourished children and seven rural clinics were built. Ghulam, 42, is now one of those Afghans who is in danger for having collaborated with a foreign power. He has a daughter and two young sons.

“Now in Afghanistan there are no options for me because all the people – neighbors, other doctors … – know that I worked for the Spanish Government and that I came to Kabul from Herat to try to leave the country,” he says by phone. Before the Taliban took power again, he worked in a private clinic, but decided to travel to Kabul with his family to try to get to safety. He was unsuccessful despite spending several days with his family at Abbey Gate and the sewage canal that surrounds the airport.

In fact, he relates that they were 200 meters from the scene of the suicide explosion. Fortunately, nothing serious happened to them, but their son suffered some bruises from the stampede and had to spend a few hours in the hospital. “We are waiting for the Spanish government to contact us again. They have told us to continue in Kabul, to take care of ourselves, but the security situation here is very bad,” he laments.

It is the same hope that another former AECID worker has who prefers not to be identified for fear that they may retaliate against him or that, if he speaks, the evacuation of his family may be thwarted. She is also in a hotel room with her four children, but with less and less money to meet the outlay that this entails. “I would like to have an answer from the Government of Spain to know if we go home or stay here. The fact of being in Kabul has already exposed us to the Taliban, who know that we want to leave the country,” says this man who He also tried unsuccessfully to access the airport with his wife and children.

“The situation is very difficult, we spent four nights in the sewage canal. I told a Spanish soldier that we had the safe conduct but he said there was nothing he could do for us. The Spanish authorities promised us that they would contact us as soon as possible, but we still have no answer “, sentence.

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