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Thursday, February 22, 2024

After escaping the Taliban, lots of of Afghans languish in Albania in a chronic US visa course of

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SHENGJIN, Albania — Virtually two years since he fled Afghanistan to flee the Taliban takeover, Firooz Mashoof continues to be haunted by the reminiscence of his final day in Kabul — the bus that took him to the airport, getting on a packed aircraft and taking off as gunfire echoed throughout town.

“The very last thing I noticed had been the mountains round Kabul and the dreary sundown because the Qatar Airways took off,” he stated.

In the present day, 1000’s of miles from his homeland, the 35-year-old photojournalist and former worker of the Afghan soccer federation, is languishing in heat and sunny Albania. With every passing day, his nervousness grows over the delay within the promised U.S. visa, casting a shadow on his goals of a brand new starting in America.

For lots of of others like him, it’s an emotional curler coaster. Some attempt to discover work and dwell with a semblance of normalcy however the concern and worry for households again dwelling permeates their days — even in welcoming Albania.

They’re hopeful, regardless of the extended paperwork, and look to a brand new life.

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In Shengjin, a city on the Adriatic coast some 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of the Albanian capital of Tirana the place lots of of Afghans got momentary shelter, Mashoof usually goes for lengthy walks by the ocean. He has discovered work at a mall, an hour’s bus trip away.

The walks stave off panic assaults that he has been forgotten — or the “loopy worry” for his household again in western Herat province.

“I used to be saved, … and now I’m to begin my new life in America,” he stated, “However when?”

The Taliban seized energy in Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops had been within the remaining weeks of their withdrawal from the nation after twenty years of warfare and because the U.S.-backed Afghan authorities and navy crumbled.

Regardless of preliminary guarantees of a extra average rule, they quickly began to implement restrictions on ladies and women, barring them from public areas and most jobs, and banning schooling for women past the sixth grade.

The measures harked again to the earlier Taliban rule of Afghanistan within the late Nineteen Nineties, when additionally they imposed their strict interpretation of Islamic regulation, or Sharia. The cruel edicts prompted a global outcry in opposition to the already ostracized Taliban, whose administration has not been formally acknowledged by the United Nations or the worldwide group.

Because the Taliban pursued an ever extra hard-line path, a extreme financial downturn adopted, regardless of efforts by support companies to assist giant swaths of the impoverished nation.

Within the days of the chaotic pullout, Washington had determined to soak up all those that had labored for the U.S. authorities and American troops or for U.S.-based media organizations and nongovernmental teams in Afghanistan. However over time, the difficult visa course of for Afghans who show they’re vulnerable to persecution turned protracted.

Greater than 3,200 Afghans have stayed in Albania’s vacationer resorts alongside the Adriatic Sea. A NATO member, Albania first agreed to deal with fleeing Afghans for one yr earlier than they transfer for remaining settlement in america, then pledged to maintain them for longer if their visas had been delayed.

There are about 76,000 Afghans already within the U.S., the place congressional efforts meant to completely resolve their immigration standing have additionally stalled.

A prime Albanian authorities official informed The Related Press that the authorities in Tirana wouldn’t be in opposition to preserving Afghans extra long-term within the Balkan nation, if they will discover jobs. The official didn’t elaborate and spoke on situation of anonymity to debate the topic.

Final yr, a small group of Afghans in Shengjin staged a protest, calling on Washington to hurry up the method of their switch. Some ladies and kids held posters studying, “We’re forgotten.”

“I haven’t got the center to protest due to the delay,” Mashoof stated. “There’s nothing I can do.”

Fazil Mohammad Shahab, a senior soccer federation official in Afghanistan, got here to Albania in November 2021. In contrast to lots of the 1000’s of vacationers who go to Shengjin and different Albanian resorts, he would not see the pristine shoreline as an unspoiled paradise.

“For me, it is a spot of ready,” he stated.

On a sunny day earlier this month in Shengjin, Afghan ladies holding scarves clustered in small teams as their kids performed on the grass. Afghan {couples} walked alongside the seashore or sat at a close-by café.

Farishta Oustovar, a tv information reporter and a former participant on Afghanistan’s nationwide volleyball staff, arrived in Albania in September 2021. Inside two months she discovered work — first at a resort, then at a shoe manufacturing facility and eventually at a childcare middle.

“I have to really feel that I can have a standard life,” stated the 23-year-old, regardless of worries for her household in Herat.

A preferred TV presenter and comic, 30-year-old Qasim Taban resumed producing humorous YouTube clips from Shengjin. He says he finds energy in humor and is hopeful buddies and followers again dwelling can see the movies.

“We, right here in Albania, and likewise Afghans again in Afghanistan have to chortle,” he stated.


Observe Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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