An Afghan woman who fled to Kabul

Nilofar Ayubi

After the Taliban took over Kabul, Nilofar Ayubi helped his staff shuttle home.

By Wednesday, Nilofar Ayubi knew his name was on the Taliban’s list. He got the news from a friend সেই the same friend who told him on Sunday that the Taliban were going to neighbors’ houses to find women like him বন্ধু a friend who had now warned him that it was time to go into hiding. The women on the list were journalists, politicians, pilots, business entrepreneurs – what was common among them was that they had been talking about the rights of Afghan women online and loudly and loudly for years, year after year.

Ayubi is one of thousands of women who have built a prosperous, prosperous life for themselves in Afghanistan over the past two decades, but their success and outspokenness have disappointed them since the fall of Kabul. Although the United States has long insisted that the rights of Afghan women be the cornerstone of any peace deal with the Taliban, that promise is now shattered. As the Taliban enforced their writ in the capital, Ayubi and other women’s rights activists were left to fend for themselves.

The day before, on Aug 1, 22-year-old Ayubi smuggled young women working for his fashion brand to their homes from different parts of the city in cars. It was safer for women to travel in packets with their male action colleagues, who now worked as de facto bodyguards.

For Ayub, one of the first and youngest women in Afghanistan to set up her own furniture manufacturing company, the news was irresistible; His network of friends and colleagues is constantly pinging at each other where the Taliban set up checkpoints. Seventy-two hours after Kabul collapsed, he said he received news that armed men had raided his home and office four times who wanted employees and neighbors to locate his family and belongings.

In the beginning, Ayubi was reluctant to leave behind everything he built – his prosperous business, his home, his family. But over the past few days, she has become desperate to get her three children out of the reach of the Taliban.

“They’re everywhere,” he told BuzzFeed News. “They have learned about us from social media and the media, especially those of us who have spoken out against terrorism during the Doha peace talks.”

Rahmat Gul / AP

Taliban fighters patrol the Wazir Akbar Khan area of ​​Kabul, Afghanistan, August 18, 2021.

Ayubi insisted on speaking on the record despite the threat to his life. “I’ve talked enough times to stay on the hit list, so talking now won’t change anything,” he said. “I want to let the world know about the current situation.”

Just a few weeks ago, before the Taliban took control of Kabul, Ayubi was on the roof of his building, singing with his neighbors and tweeting #AfghanLivesMater. At the time, he was quoted in the French newspaper Le Monde as saying: “If the Taliban came to Kabul, they would burn everything we built in these 20 years. I looked around wondering, what can I take? My three children and maybe some clothes.”

Since the fall of the capital, women like Ayubi have been struggling to find a way out with their families. Some of his friends have come out of Afghanistan. But the women on the Taliban list are walking a narrow path where one mistake can mean death. When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the education of women and girls was banned and they were forced to wear the burqa outside the home. They could not work at all, nor could they leave home without a male colleague. Penalties for violating this code range from public flogging to the death penalty.

A document has spread through social media and group chats for people trying to figure out how to leave the country. The author, who said he works as an adviser to a government in the region and asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the document collected information on the visa process as well as advice on safety and travel logistics. He collected from diplomats and other acquaintances of the country.

“People can submit tips, and I’ll check their accuracy before applying it,” the author of the document told BuzzFeed News. “Most of this information is available, but is buried. Data accessibility is a big barrier. ”

But the document, which BuzzFeed News saw, also paints a clear picture of Afghans navigating a maze of bureaucratic, logistical and personal challenges that are simply trying to get to Kabul International Airport.

The document states, “You need to bring as few items as possible, no pets.” “Only a small hand luggage (such as a handbag) is allowed, and this is subject to space constraints – there have been many cases where no luggage has been loaded in such a tight space.”

Via Shakib Rahmani / AFP Getty Images

After the Taliban’s military occupation of Afghanistan, the Afghan people boarded a U.S. military plane to leave Afghanistan on August 19, 2021, at Kabul’s military airport.

Getting to the airport is not easy. The document advised people to arrive at Hamid Karzai International Airport, before the Taliban curfew starts at 9pm – but since eviction workers are working 2/7, the curfew can fall within hours of the scheduled departure time of passengers. At the moment, the document says, there are no flights from anywhere outside Afghanistan except Kabul.

“The U.S. government has confirmed that they cannot ensure safe entry to the airport: you must make your own arrangements,” it says.

Specific documents for airport entry are shown that people often store on their phones, so the document recommends that people print those necessary files and carry an external phone charger. “Your airport access pass is your lifeline,” the document said.

Via Deputy Kohsar / AFP Getty Images

Afghans gathered on the side of the road near the military part of Kabul airport on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee the country after the military occupation of Afghanistan.

Yet it warns that some of the information it provides may not necessarily be credible, especially the collection of names and organizations that offer to help people escape.

The author writes, “I have listed some contact details below, but cannot guarantee 100% authenticity of these projects.” Use it to fish your data with Taliban. “

Ayubi said he did not know when he would try to escape.

Until Friday, he was hiding in a low-income neighborhood with his children, mother, cousin and friends because his company’s “loyal employees” guarded the door and brought them food, he said. In the past, these people worked for IUB at Nico Design, a boutique store that sells ornate living room furniture, bunk beds for kids, lawn furniture and IUB brand designer clothing – Maria Clothing, Maria Bride and Maria Carpet. Handmade Afghan Rage around the world. Now, they are his last defense against the Taliban.

He said Ayub’s days were to check Twitter for updates, come online, search for the latest information about safe routes outside the country, and then disconnect the internet and think about “our less chance of survival”. For now, he doesn’t have much plans for the future, he hopes, but is hoping to leave Afghanistan somehow in the end.

“It’s the complete opposite of me and my kids’ lives, ”Ayubi said. “I’ve made it from the beginning of my life, and now we’re back to class one.” 3

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