The life in Uruguay of an Afghan family who fled from the Taliban: “We feel free”

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After 16 months on the run, a 31-year-old couple and a boy who turns 3 in February put their lives back together in South America

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Life in Uruguay of an Afghan family who fled the Taliban: “We feel free”

The Afghan family in Uruguay, made up of a 31-year-old couple and a child who turns 3 in February. They had to flee because the Taliban were chasing them. (photo: El Observador)

On December 28, a family of Afghans arrived at Carrasco Airport fleeing of the Taliban regime and seeking refuge in Uruguay. The family is made up of a 31-year-old couple and a child who turns 3 in February. Now they are looking for a way to put their lives back together, settle in Uruguay, study and look for work.

They had to flee because the Taliban were persecuting them for their work and they feared ending up in jail or dead. Both worked in the government and in the United Nations, in projects related to gender-based violence. She, Taiba, was Gender Director in the Ministry of Health until the return of the Taliban to power. All these international projects were dismantled by the regime.

When the Taliban arrived, they went to look for them at their house, and that same night the odyssey of this family. They passed through different provinces of Afghanistan, always in hiding, and ended up in Pakistan, according to an account Subrayado (Channel 10)

The key date was August 15, 2021. Around three in the afternoon they began to hear that the Taliban had arrived and people began to escape however they could. They took refuge, first, at the house of some friends, in another province, but they were detected there and had to leave at the end of that year to avoid being captured.

Two colleagues of Aliaqa, the father of the family, who worked in a hospital, were killed the taliban. Others were jailed. That's why there was no option for this family: they had to get out of there.

The path was complex. Just to be able to enter Pakistan, they had to pay a visa of 1,000 dollars each. As they could, they sold what little they had, some jewelry, and they were left with nothing. Without a penny, but already on the other side of the border.

Fears continued, and Pakistanit was not a final destination for this couple. The visas they bought after selling everything were only for one month, but they stayed for nine until they received an ultimatum from the government saying they had to leave or be jailed for three years.

In Pakistan, Aliaqa wrote to all her social media contacts for help. He answered a Spanish professor whom she had met in a few years of study in that country. They tried to emigrate to Spain, but were unsuccessful. But the teacher put them in touch with the Uruguayan journalist Dario Klein.

The life in Uruguay of an Afghan family who fled the Taliban: “We feel free”

In order to enter Pakistan, they had to pay a visa for 1000 dollars each. They were selling what little they had, some jewelry, and they were left with nothing. (The Observer)

Through this contact, they were able to communicate with the then vice chancellor, Carolina Ache, and with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Acnur), which facilitated their arrival in Uruguay.

The new life

The United Nations refugee organization (UNHCR) supports the family financially as they look for work and try to establish themselves in the country country.

He speaks Spanish, and the woman will begin tostudy in March, in a course at the University of the Republic and the child, Sina, will go to kindergarten.

The life in Uruguay of an Afghan family who fled from the Taliban: “We feel free”

The mother of the family will start studying in March, in a course at the University of the Republic and the child, Sina, will go to kindergarten. (El Observador)

When they found out they could travel to Uruguay, they felt “very afraid”. This is because friends of theirs who obtained visas for Brazil, were questioned a lot by the Police when they entered that country.

But in Uruguay, a person accompanied them to the last door of the airport. The father of the family says: “We feel free. That there was no one in the back. When we came, everything was different. They lived peacefully and nobody asked us where we were from. In Pakistan they asked us every day.”

Before thinking about the destination, they searched for a lot of information about Uruguay, the climate, the history, the people. “We need work, and I have three brothers and two sisters who live in Afghanistan, younger than me, and when I worked I paid for things. And also my wife's family. We want help to bring them, too,” says the man.

The official paths

At the beginning of September 2021, the Uruguayan Foreign Ministry had received a formal request for 15 Afghan families to settle in the country. It had been reported that the matter was going to be studied by Minister Francisco Bustillo and by the President of the Republic, Luis Lacalle Pou.

The life in Uruguay of a Afghan family who fled the Taliban: “We feel free”

The Uruguayan president, Luis Lacalle Pou, was positive that the country receives refugees.

“Uruguay historically has open arms for those people who unfortunately have to flee their homeland, so we will make the corresponding assessments. A priori, Uruguay has open arms”, the president had said at the time.

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