An Afghan asylum seeker living in a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos worries about friends and family returning home after the Taliban’s rush to seize control of Afghanistan.
“This is a disaster,” a 21-year-old woman who refused to give her last name told Reuters. “What will happen now in Afghanistan for the younger generation? For children? For women’s rights? Everything has been destroyed by the Taliban. “
Elena (as she introduced herself to reporters) was one of about 500 Afghan asylum seekers and local activists who took part in the protest late Monday night, raised a large Afghan flag and sat next to a poster that read: “We say no to the Taliban.”
It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of Afghanistan, after government forces, trained and equipped for years by the United States and other countries, disgracefully surrendered.
The militants sought to appear more moderate, promising to respect women’s rights and protect people. But many Afghans fear the Taliban will return to the harsh practices of their 1996-2001 rule, when women were not allowed to work and punished with public stoning.
In Lesvos, home to some 2,500 Afghans – half of the total migrants on the island, according to the Greek Interior Ministry – protesters shared these concerns.
“All Afghans are crying,” said Elena, who helped organize the protest. “I expect from the world, please support Afghanistan, do not forget about the Afghan people.”
Greece and in particular Lesvos have been at the forefront of migrant flows to the European Union for many years. The authorities, fearing the arrival of a new wave of migrants after the victory of the Taliban, insist on a coordinated EU response.
But for Elena, the most pressing issue was the fate of those who remained.
“Women cannot be educated. Women cannot leave the house on their own, they have to stay at home because they do not feel safe. I have friends in Afghanistan, they are in a panic, they do not know what they can do, ”she said.