Afghanistan is reissuing passports, although leaving the country remains an extremely risky endeavor. The processing centers, especially that of Acceptance, have become an objective of the Islamic State and accentuated the feeling of terror and collapse in a population that faces the severity of the regime, the debacle of the banking system and hunger, to the point that right now it sustains its survival in the bartering and assistance from the World Food Program and other organizations.
After the reopening of the passport offices on the 18th, hundreds of people queue daily waiting for their documents. Many arrive at dawn. They do not want to return home empty
after a full day at the gates of the centers. But four days have been enough to destroy one of the few elements of incipient administrative normality – and also of hope – that it offers Afghanistan since the final end of the Taliban invasion in August. A kamikaze tried on Thursday to attack the applicants in the middle of the street, although he was killed by local security forces before detonating the bomb attached to his body.
Against the Taliban
The attack was directed against the Taliban and relatives of regime officials who had that day reserved for requesting passports. The Ministry of the Interior recognizes that the alarms have turned on and the Police have been forced to reinforce security. Even the agents disperse citizens when they crowd in front of the offices, aware of the massacre perpetrated by the local branch of Daesh in August against a crowd trying to access the airport in the aftermath of the foreign evacuation. More than 140 people died in an attack practically identical to the one the terrorists wanted to carry out this week.
The crowds in search of the passport have become a symbol of the new afghan exodus. Harassed by an economic crisis that worsens for days and the fear of violence, numerous families, high-ranking officials and technocrats try to get hold of the documents that allow them to leave the country. Other citizens yearn for leave so they can visit relatives abroad, access medical treatment, or try to regain business relationships.
But possibly the largest group that wants to leave their land behind is made up of the tens of thousands of Afghans who collaborated with Allied troops over the last twenty years as interpreters, conductors or suppliers of supplies. The precipitous withdrawal of the US Army and the rest of the international forces and the rapid advance of the Taliban reconquest left a large number of collaborators trapped in the suburbs of Kabul and other cities far from the capital. Many of them did not make it to Kabul to take the planes to freedom from there and now remain stranded and hiding in villages far from the capital and well hidden for fear of being executed. The number of visa applicants to go to the US exceeds 60,000 people and the American authorities trust that the regime will facilitate their departure from the country, even under the threatening shadow of reprisals. The White House has reported that half of that group has already passed State Department investigations and could be evacuated without further obstacles.
International analysts agree that fear is one of the engines that move passport applicants, but the lack of economic expectations is just as important as that. January is a key month. The HIM-HER-IT and the IMF They consider that the country is facing a general collapse of its economy this coming beginning of the year. The funds that the previous Afghan government had deposited abroad, about 7.9 billion euros, continue to be blocked, the international aid that supported the system -Afghanistan is a fully ‘subsidized’-state – are coming in at a drop and the regime has stopped paying the salary to civil servants.
As if this were not enough, the same taliban laws Regarding women, they are accentuating the crisis. Until now, female workers contributed around 700 million euros per year to the system and helped feed the consumer sector, which has disappeared with the ban on women from having a job – approximately 20% of female employees have been kept- . On the other hand, citizens are allowed to withdraw a minimum daily amount from their accounts, but even that ends as banks suffer from a brutal lack of liquidity. Millions of Afghans can no longer obtain cash, which has multiplied barter markets, where families exchange their meager properties – from tableware to toys – for food or other essentials. “It is already a matter of sheer survival,” the sellers acknowledge.
The food bags that regularly bring international programs – heavily guarded by the Taliban – are the only resource, not only in the most marginal regions but in the capital itself. The UN warned on the eve of Christmas Eve that the country is on the verge of a “humanitarian catastrophe” and estimates that a million children could die in the first months of 2022, a year that appears to be anything but happy in this corner so far from Bethlehem as from the West.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism