Hoping to escape Taliban rule, hundreds gather at Kabul passport office

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Afghans gather outside the passport office after the Taliban announced it is once again issuing passports to their citizens.

Kabul:

Hundreds of Afghans flocked to the Kabul passport office on Wednesday, just a day after it was announced it would reopen this week to issue the documents, while Taliban security officers had to push back some in the crowd in an attempt to maintain order.

Taliban officials said the service would resume from Saturday, after being suspended since taking power and the fall of the previous government in August, which has blocked many desperate to flee the country.

“I came to get a passport but, as you can see here, there are a lot of problems, the system is not working,” an applicant, Mahir Rasooli, told Reuters outside the office.

“There is no official to answer our questions here to tell us when to come. People are confused.”

A spokesperson for the Taliban officials who head the passport department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Poverty and hunger have worsened since the Islamist movement took control of Afghanistan, which was already suffering from drought and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Half a million people have been displaced in recent months, according to the United Nations, and that number will only rise if health services, schools and the economy collapse.

The hundreds of people who came down to the passport office arrived despite the advice that passport distribution would not begin until Saturday, and initially only to those who had already applied.

Crowds crowded into a tall concrete barrier, trying to hand documents to an official standing at the top, in a scene reminiscent of the chaos at Kabul airport during the final evacuation stages following the withdrawal of the American troops.

The official urged them to return home and come back on Saturday.

“I am here to receive a passport, but unfortunately I could not,” said a man in the crowd, Ahmad Shakib Sidiqi. “I don’t know what we should do in this state.”

The bleak economic outlook motivates their desire to leave, said Sidiqi and Rasooli.

“There is no work and the economic situation is not very good, so I want to have a good future for my children,” Rasooli said.

Sidiqi said he wanted a passport to accompany a family member to neighboring Pakistan for treatment, but added that they had no choice but to leave.

“We have to leave Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s a bad situation in Afghanistan – no job, no job. It’s not a good condition for living.”

The Taliban have said they welcome international aid, although many donors have frozen aid after taking power.

(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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