France offers chance at asylum to Afghans who worked for it, sparks exodus


PARIS:

As anxiety grows in Afghanistan ahead of the US forces pullout, an initiative by the French foreign ministry to grant asylum to Afghans who worked for French organisations has sparked an exodus, reported France24 on Wednesday.

However, the French foreign ministry’s move to grant asylum to employees of governmental and non-governmental organisations has invited criticism, seen as sending the wrong signal at a crucial time.

Officials and volunteers at the NGO Afrane are anxious about their operations in Afghanistan.

“The situation in Afghanistan has become extremely worrying,” said vice-president Afrane, adding, “The departure of Afrane’s Afghan staff is imminent.”

Within a few weeks, the NGO lost almost all 23 Afghan employees, who are about to leave the country following their asylum.

Read Afghan civilians take up arms as US-led forces leave

The operation that launched in May now concerns around 600 Afghans, with 80 of the employees and their families working for the organisation.

Months before President Joe Biden ’s deadline for the pullout, Taliban have intensified their attacks on the ground.

The movement now exists in almost every province in what seems a repeat of their 1990s takeover.

Over 50 of the country’s 370 districts have reportedly fallen into the hands of the Taliban since the announcement of the withdrawal.

“Most districts that have been taken surround provincial capitals, suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn,” UN special envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons told the Security Council last week.

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