All was lost the moment Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani fled, leading to the collapse of the Western-backed government in the country. Taliban fighters took control of Kabul and almost all of the remaining country in a matter of days. While the Biden administration and other world leaders are arguing over who is to blame and whether Afghans need to take charge of their country, it is the Afghans who will be subjected to one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today.
Afghanistan has already experienced life under the Taliban rule in 1996 when they established an Islamic emirate in the country. The Taliban rule was known to be brutal and repressive with virtually no rights for women, nor access to education or freedom of movement and clothing. Any kind of media and music was also banned. Taliban leaders keep assuring the western media and governments that they do not follow the same ideologies and ruling style from 20 years ago and things will change now, but their actions have failed to match their words in the past few days.
The situation in Afghanistan seems to be going back to how it was 20 years ago. There have been reports of women being stopped from going to school, evacuated from universities, and rushing home in fear of being caught for not being fully covered or escorted by a male family member. Women and children have been historically vulnerable and victims of major war crimes and the developing situation in Afghanistan may not be that different. According to a report by Business Standard, “Taliban fighters in northern areas told some female employees of Afghanistan International Bank, the country’s largest by assets, to leave and go home.” This may be the beginning of a worsening situation.
Another major issue that may arise out of this is an increase in refugees. The report from BBC showing hundreds of Afghans clinging to the wheels and wings of airplanes is tragic. But it is an indication of a grim future for the country where people will look for risky and life-threatening routes to flee the country.
It is only a matter of time before the impact of this crisis spills over to neighboring countries. A representative from India spoke during a meeting at the United Nations last week asking the council to work on a permanent ceasefire and an immediate cessation of violence to avert a serious threat to regional peace and security. This call for securing peace was also voiced by Niger’s delegate speaking on behalf of Kenya, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines. A representative from the United States asserted that the Taliban will become an international pariah if it resorts to a military takeover of Afghanistan.
The situation worsened within a week of this meeting, leaving the world in utter shock and dismay. It is important now more than ever for the international community to join forces and find a way to prevent another long humanitarian crisis in the region. While governments can evacuate their delegates and bring them home to safety, they do have a responsibility to protect the Afghans who worked with them and for them in hopes of a better future for their homeland.