- BBC News World
For many, Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, is already the last refuge.
Thousands of people flee from different parts of the country in the direction of the capital to escape the attack of the Taliban who regained control of several cities in the country in a rapid offensive that the Afghan army cannot contain.
The UN called on Afghanistan’s neighboring countries to keep their borders open as the number of civilians moving into the territory increases.
Food shortages are “serious”, informed officials of the World Food Program (WFP), of the UN, and warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.
On Friday, the Taliban seized the country’s second-largest city, Kandahar, the last provincial capital to fall.
The southern city of 600,000 was once a stronghold of the Taliban and is strategically important due to its international airport and agricultural and industrial production.
The Taliban also seized the nearby city of Lashkar Gah and now control about a third of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals.
The breakthrough comes as US and foreign troops withdrew after 20 years of military operations. More than 1,000 civilians have died in Afghanistan in the past month alone, according to the UN.
Sahraa Karimi, an Afghan filmmaker in Kabul, told the BBC that I felt the world had turned its back on Afghanistan and that he feared a return to the “dark times.”
Life under the Taliban in the 1990s forced women to wear the burqa that covered them completely. Radical Islamists restricted education for girls over the age of 10 and brutal punishments were imposed, including public executions.
“I am in danger, (but) I no longer think of myself “, Karimi assured. “I think of our country, I think of our generation. We did a lot to have these changes.”
“I think of girls … There are thousands of beautiful and talented women in this country,” he added.
In the same way he opined Fresh Cream, founder and director of the Charmaghz mobile library in Kabul and an advocate for children’s rights.
“The Taliban did not change. They consider us as spoils of war. So where they go they force women to marry and I think that is the worst revenge they have against us,” he told the BBC.
“This is the biggest war against women in these times. And unfortunately the world is watching her in silence, “he lamented.
Desperate messages from young women
By Yalda Hakim, BBC News
Every night young men and women send desperate messages to me asking for help. “Pray for us,” says one. “The situation is critical, we are concerned,” says another.
Kabul is in a state of shock and perplexity. The capital is the great prize that the Taliban is missing.
I have reported from Afghanistan for over a decade. I have built relationships with women journalists, judges, parliamentarians, university students, and human rights activists.
They all tell me that they took a step forward because the Americans and their allies encouraged them to do so. For 20 years the West inspired, financed and nurtured this new generation of Afghans. They grew up with freedoms and opportunities that they have made their own.
On my last trip to Kabul, I spoke with Taliban commanders. They told me that they are determined to reimpose their version of sharia, which includes stoning for adultery, amputation of limbs for theft and preventing girls over 12 from going to school.
That is not the Afghanistan and Kabul that these young women know or want.
“There are rumors that when they regain power they will kill everyone close to the government and the United States. We are afraid,” one person told me.
The only response from the United States and its Western allies to these calls for help so far has been silence.
Many of those seeking safety in Kabul are sleeping on the streets.
There are about 72,000 children among those fleeing to the capital in recent days, according to the Save the Children organization.
“We don’t have money to buy bread or get some medicine for my son”, Asadullah, a 35-year-old street vendor who fled the northern province of Kunduz after the Taliban set his house on fire, told the BBC.
“All of our house and belongings were burned, so we came to Kabul and prayed to God to help us,” added Asadullah.
On the outskirts of the Afghan capital there are makeshift camps while many others sleep in abandoned warehouses, local media reported.
Speaking to the BBC shortly before the fall of Kandahar, Pashtana Durrani, executive director of an educational NGO that works with Afghan girls, said she feared for her life because of her vocal role in advocating for women’s education.
“The girls we work with fled,” he said. “I don’t know where the students are and personally I’m scared for their lives. What if they were forced to marry a Taliban fighter? What will his life be like? ”
What happened and is happening in Afghanistan?
Overthrow of the Taliban– In 2001, US-led forces toppled Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers after 9/11 attacks planned by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, which was based there.
20 years occupation and military operations: The United States and its allies oversaw elections and created Afghan security forces, but the Taliban continued their attacks.
Agreement with the Taliban: The United States negotiated with the Taliban that they would withdraw if the militants agreed not to install terrorist groups. But talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government failed. US-led forces withdrew this year and the Taliban regained control of a large part of the country.
“Where can we go?”
Por Yogita Limaye, BBC News, Kabul
People cannot believe what happened in one day. Five provincial capitals, including major cities, fell to the Taliban on Thursday.
Thousands of people have been arriving in Kabul, but this is a number that changes according to the hours.
They left with very few belongings. They are people who had houses and jobs, shops and farms, and they had to leave everything behind and try to flee to safety.
Some of them took days and are dangerous journeys (past the Taliban checkpoints and the active front) to reach Kabul. This is the last place many of them think they can go. They say, from here, where else can we go?
They are angry with the government, because they had to fend for themselves. The government promises that it will house them in mosques and provide them with shelter, but there is not enough space for all those who are arriving.
There is also outrage that the United States and the United Kingdom are evacuating their own citizens and leaving Afghans to their own devices.
The United States sent about 3,000 soldiers to the Kabul airport to evacuate a “significant” number of embassy personnel on special flights.
According to information from the embassy, there are reports that the Taliban are executing Afghan troops who were surrendering. This “could constitute war crimes.”
Britain is deploying 600 soldiers to support British citizens leaving the country. The British embassy staff was reduced to a basic team.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.