The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers
The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.
While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.
Suicide bombing targets Sikhs in Jalalabad, leaving more than a dozen dead and 20 wounded
The attack targeted a vehicle traveling through the Mukhaberat district, with at least 10 of the dead members of the Sikh community.
The vehicle’s occupants had been traveling to meet with President Ashraf Ghani, who was on tour in Jalalabad and had recently attended the inauguration a new hospital.
Sikhs account for less than 1% of the Afghan population, their numbers having been drastically reduced in the last few decades as a result of death and displacement from war and institutionalized oppression and neglect.
Despite its condemnation by international medical experts as scientifically unsound and official promises to ban the procedure, healthcare and judicial systems in Afghanistan have continued to rely on abusive assessments of sexual activity in women accused or suspected of extramarital sex. The potential social catastrophe that could result from a positive result has led to the development of a black market of so-called hymen reconstruction, which has led to further health insecurity for women who undergo the procedure. Even the administration of the test can bring social shame to those subjected to it, leading to poor outcomes in education and employment as well as a contracting social network. Afghanistan is far from the only country in which the tests continues, and globalized efforts to end the gender-discriminatory practice have encountered mixed success in changing deeply rooted cultural norms.
Bombing during protest in Kabul devastates Afghanistan’s Hazara community
A triple suicide attack left at least 80 dead and 231 wounded at a protest in the Afghan capital, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks in the country since 2001.
The demonstration had been organized to protest an electricity route in the country and the perceived abandonment of the Hazara community by political leaders.
Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazaras have long been targeted in the country, including in recent decades by the Taliban and now the Islamic State.
Hazara communities in Afghanistan protest changes to new electricity line route
Thousands from Hazara communities in the country are expected to protest after officials outlined a new route away from provinces with large Hazara populations for what they argue are technical and economic reasons.
The electricity project is a part of the Asian Development Bank’s plan to connect energy-rich Central Asia with the energy-deprived countries of the western subcontinent.
The resource row comes as the government has pledged increased protection for the Shiite Hazara minority, who have faced kidnapping and murder at the hands of militants in the Sunni-majority country.
Afghanistan has seen millions uprooted as local communities have found themselves caught in the middle of the conflict between the Taliban and a coalition of Afghan and U.S. forces. After the Taliban took control of the country in the mid-1990s, two of the country’s religious minorities–Hindus and Sikhs–saw their insecurity skyrocket, with land seizures, open harassment, and economic exclusion causing most of the tens of thousands in their ranks to flee for asylum elsewhere. Anadolu Agency, a state-run media outlet in Turkey, provides a glimpse of the outlook Afghan Hindus and Sikhs have on their prospects today.
An estimated 2 million widows in Afghanistan struggle to hold together their families and forge a future for themselves following the death of their husbands. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty profiles a group of un-remarried women who, living independently, have built a community from the ground up with the few resources they have.