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Taliban blocks evacuations, some travel

Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban government Associated Press/Photo by Hussein Malla

Taliban blocks evacuations, some travel

At a news conference on Sunday, Taliban leaders said they received reports that Afghan refugees suffer poor conditions in countries like Qatar and Turkey while waiting for immigration paperwork. They said Afghans were no longer allowed to leave the country without a valid and approved reason, and they invoked religious law to prevent women from traveling without a male chaperone. A ministry official signed a letter directing police at airports and border crossings to detain anyone with connections to the U.S. or NATO. Thousands of Afghans attempt to cross into Iran every day.

Why the change? Spokesman and Deputy Minister of Culture Zabiullah Mujahid said the government is trying to protect its citizens. Tens of thousands who were waiting to be evacuated must now stay until the Taliban approves of conditions in refugee camps in other countries. EU members worry that the Taliban is using the news about the invasion of Ukraine to hide a crackdown on women, ethnic groups, and anyone with American ties. A Taliban official responded, “Focus on securing Europe from Putin. Afghans know what they are doing.”

Dig deeper: Read Esther Eaton’s report in the Stew about asylum options for Afghan refugees.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.


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