Women who were evacuated to Albania after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan are urging the international community to pay attention to the plight of Afghan women and girls still living in an environment of severe gender-based discrimination.
Some 550 evacuated Afghans are in the Albanian coastal town of Golem, 50 kilometers west of the capital Tirana. For more than two weeks, women in the group wrote articles, posted social media messages and contacted foreign authorities and organizations to remind people about the worsening conditions in Afghanistan.
“Unless the world pays attention to the dire situation of the Afghan women now – without a job, isolated at home, no prospects ahead – tomorrow it will be too late,” Masoud Faizy, 48, a gynecologist who was research director at the Malali Maternity Hospital in Kabul, said Friday.
Faizy said friends she has communicated with told her life had become “unbearable” since Western troops left Afghanistan and the Taliban took over running the country in August.
Shamail Zarei, a board member of the Afghan Women’s Network, said the public awareness campaign in Albania arose out of such conversations. Reports from Afghanistan say the Taliban has closed schools for girls and barred women from working or attending universities.
“How could we fight, our friends back home tell us, who do not take easy our call for them to fight at a time that we already left the country,” Zarei told the Associated Press.
Zarei’s younger sister Sabera, 21, who had been studying law in Afghanistan, said her classmates were “depressed and disappointed after the rushing move out by the US Army.”
Fear for family members still in Afghanistan haunts the Afghan evacuees, who are waiting in Albania for authorization to move to the United States and other countries.
Setara Golzari, 15, said the school she had attended in Herat, Afghanistan, was closed by the Taliban.
“Why do they hate women?” she asked.
Golzari called on the US government to speed up the visa process for her family, saying her mother suffers from a serious illness that has gone untreated for the last month in Albania.
“She doesn’t have the proper diet and we are not finding the medicine she uses and she is suffering a lot,” the teenager said.
Albania has sheltered a total of 2,250 Afghan evacuees in hotels and resorts around the Balkan nation. They have been told they will have to stay there for about a year until US authorities finish processing their special immigration visas.
Albania has offered medical assistance to all Afghan evacuees. Albanian doctors, however, often ask for private payments because the Afghans are not listed as having medical insurance.
The Afghan Women’s Network issued a plea for the international community “to take action to end the existing violence against the Afghan people, especially women, and to establish a mechanism to monitor human rights violations in Afghanistan and not to leave our people alone.” [AP]