The Taliban announced the resumption on Sunday of the issuance of passports in Kabul, offering hope of being able to leave their country soon to many Afghans feeling threatened by the Islamists or wanting to flee the economic crisis.
This threatens to turn into a major humanitarian crisis, against the backdrop of a halt in international aid since the Taliban came to power.
“Passport issuance will begin tomorrow in three regions, including Kabul,” Alam Gul Haqqani, head of the Afghan passport service, told reporters on Saturday.
Closed since the Taliban took power in mid-August, the service reopened briefly in October but the influx of requests had caused technical problems, forcing the Taliban to stop issuances after a few days.
“All the technical problems are solved, the biometric devices are repaired,” assured Alam Gul Haqqani on Saturday, adding that the passports would initially be issued to those who have already filed an application.
The new requests will be accepted from January 10, he said.
Many Afghans who wanted to go to neighboring Pakistan for medical treatment were also stranded without valid passports. “My mother has health problems and we needed to go to Pakistan for a long time, but we couldn’t do it,” said Agence France-Presse Jamshid who, like many Afghans, does not use Last name.
” We are happy […] to be able to receive our passports and go to Pakistan, ”he added.
Call for return
The resumption of the issuance of passports is a test of the goodwill of the Taliban, who have made a commitment to the international community to let their compatriots who have valid visas and wish to leave.
These are particularly numerous as Afghanistan is, according to the UN, facing “one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world”, which is expected to worsen with the onset of winter. The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) has warned of an upcoming “avalanche of famine”.
The Taliban are calling for a thaw of funds to revive the economy and fight the famine which, in Kabul, is pushing many people to sell their goods for food.
On Saturday, the Taliban government’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, again called on the United Nations to “put pressure” on the United States to release the $ 9.5 billion (8 billion euros) of Afghan Central Bank reserves that they froze.
He also called on Afghans living abroad to return to their country now that the war is over there.
“We invite and encourage everyone to come back to Afghanistan, even our political opponents,” he said during a ceremony in Kabul on the occasion of “International Migrants Day”.
Khalil Haqqani, the Afghan Ministry of Refugees present at the same event, for his part considered that international humanitarian organizations should help the return of refugees.
“The Afghan refugees abroad in camps are in a very bad situation, they have to come back to Afghanistan and work here,” said Haqqani, a prominent leader of the eponymous network, a group that Washington calls terrorist and accused of being behind the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.
No country has yet recognized the government put in place by the Islamists who seized power in mid-August in Afghanistan, in full withdrawal of the American forces who had fought them for twenty years.
International flights, mainly to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, resumed in September at Kabul airport, besieged at the end of August by thousands of Afghans wanting to leave the country.