UN Afghan staff feel abandoned by Taliban surge

With the Taliban coming to power last week, Afghans working for the United Nations watched as many of their foreign colleagues boarded a plane and left the country.

However, according to interviews and emails seen by BuzzFeed News, they themselves are increasingly eager to seek help — or at least if the Taliban regard them as an international organization’s work target, seeking a safe place — but they have been ignored.

Angry current and former staff members stated that the United Nations, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2002, does not seem to have plans to let its thousands of Afghan nationals’ staff leave the country, and gave them few options except for armed forces. The molecules may stay at home when they leave. Look for them.

In phone calls and text messages, four Afghan nationals working for the United Nations told BuzzFeed News that the United Nations did not provide them with safe housing in Kabul, and some sought asylum in relatives’ houses. They pointed out that compared with their international colleagues, Afghan nationals working for the United Nations take much greater risks in the country, and their work may put them at risk.Reuters reported Tuesday Since their shocking coming to power last week, Taliban fighters have ransacked multiple United Nations compounds.

“They are very, very obvious in the community,” said a former UN international staff member who requested anonymity. “The Taliban know exactly who these people are.”

The United Nations did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Secretary-General Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said On August 18 The press conference stated that the United Nations cannot easily evacuate Afghan nationals from Afghanistan because it “is not a country that issues visas.”

He added that the United Nations is “doing its best” for its staff and their families. “There are various administrative obstacles that need to be negotiated and discussed,” Dujarric said. “But national workers are at the forefront of what we strive to do every day.”

organization About 300 international staff and 3,000 Afghan national staff work in Afghanistan for the United Nations mission in the country and for agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme and UN Women. The organization stated on August 18 that about 100 of its international staff will temporarily travel to Kazakhstan.

PassBlue, a United Nations-focused news site Friday report The Afghan nationals working for the organization felt “lonely and scared.” The new detail in this story is about the Afghan staff begging for help from the Taliban to no avail-even if someone hears that militants near him are asking where he is-raises further questions about whether the United Nations fully plans to protect local employees. Because the Taliban began to increase their military offensive against the Afghan government in May.

“They have been preparing for this for several months,” said the former international staff member.

An Afghan staff member who works in the operations department of a UN agency said that he and his colleagues raised the evacuation question several times in the chat box of the Zoom meeting with colleagues and superiors last week, but received no response. (BuzzFeed News concealed the identities of all four Afghan staff interviewed for this article to avoid endangering them.)

“They usually read the chat box,” he said. “This time they saw the chat, but tried to change the subject and finish everything.”

The staff member said that he had asked his superiors whether the United Nations would help him and other Afghan staff with valid international visas. But he was told that the organization could only try to get him to leave, forcing him to keep his wife and young children.

“Why does this make sense?” he said. “How can I leave my family behind when I leave this country? This is unacceptable for me or the country’s staff-it violates humanitarian values ​​and violates human values.”

Other Afghan staff described similar meetings.

“They are just playing games with us. There is a meeting every week and they say they are’doing their best’,” said another Afghan staff member of the United Nations Development Project who is committed to gender equality. “What is this attempt? If the small embassy can evacuate the staff, why can’t the United Nations?”

It is not clear how many United Nations international staff have withdrawn from Afghanistan, but four staff members told BuzzFeed News that senior international staff have been evacuated, and it seems that it is mainly Afghans who have left.

Liam McDowall, spokesperson for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) said, Tell PassBlue The United Nations is pushing other countries to support visa applications and temporary residence applications for Afghan staff and their families.

Unama did not respond to phone calls or emails about this article.

The staff interviewed by BuzzFeed News also said that UN officials told them that they were seeking visas so that they could relocate to other countries, but some people said they felt it was too late.

“This is not the time for visas,” said an Afghan staff member who works with the United Nations Development Programme. “We have UN ID cards, and they can discuss with other countries to evacuate immediately.”

A United Nations staff member who urged the United Nations to evacuate its female Afghan employees for fear of the Taliban’s abuse of women told BuzzFeed News that she had requested help for Afghan staff at city hall meetings and through local and global staff associations.

“No one hears our voices,” she said. “No one is listening.”

“They told us that we must’stay and deliver’,” she added, citing the UN slogan about its presence in Afghanistan.

According to reports, the United Nations Moved some Its Afghan staff went to Kabul to reduce the risk, but did not place these people in a safe place.

“They did not put them in a fortified compound, they were left on their own equipment,” said the former international staff member, who spoke directly with Afghan staff.

World Bank evacuation According to a Reuters report on August 20, all its employees in Afghanistan.

A group of United Nations trade unions and staff associations Start petition Call on the Secretary-General of the United Nations to take “all necessary measures”, including evacuation to protect staff. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had nearly 5,300 signatures.

Arora Akanksha, a UN auditor who is running for the next secretary-general, said: “We should protect the human rights of all people, but now we have to let our human rights find their own way.” The leadership is ashamed.”

“The whole’stay and pass’ message that the United Nations is promoting, we should ask ourselves, who will stay?” she added.

An Unama staff member who claimed to be hiding in a remote area told BuzzFeed News that Taliban militants were asking neighbors about his whereabouts. He had participated in sensitive political projects, and he thought he might be a target.

“Everyone here knows that I am working with Unama,” he said. “I am high-profile.”

He told BuzzFeed News that he asked his department to move him to a safer place. In the days before Kabul fell into the Taliban, it would be difficult for militants to identify him by talking to locals. According to an email he shared with BuzzFeed News, a few days later, after the militant group had seized power, a reply suggested that he hide at home.

“I am like a detainee,” he said. “I can’t go out, I can’t see anyone. So how long can I stay here?”

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