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Selasa, 31 Agustus 2021

The last US plane has departed Kabul, so what now for the people of Afghanistan? - ABC News

After the last American plane left Kabul, the city's skyline lit up with gunfire — a Taliban celebration of the "complete independence" they have achieved over Afghanistan. 

Many Afghan people watched on from their homes or hideouts, fearful of what happens next and unsure how they will pay for their next meal. 

"The Taliban are celebrating now in Kabul, lots of gunfire, but the regular people are at home, unhappy," one young woman inside the city told the ABC. 

Their sorrow is steeped in the betrayal many feel towards the foreign forces and governments that promised them so much. 

Afghanistan today is very different to 20 years ago, when the Taliban was removed from power.

There are shopping malls and apartment buildings — apparent signs of progress, suddenly now reminders of what could have been.

"People's expectation is more. People [were] already used to a relatively better lifestyle," the Kabul student said. 

"When I talk to people, they are extremely unhappy.

"Most of them have their money in the banks and literally it is very hard to take [out] your own money, even if you are a millionaire." 

Afghan people have been left to salvage what they can from the lives they built when they believed they would be free. 

Three men with guns wave from the tray of a ute in Kabul
With the US officially out of Afghanistan, the Taliban has complete control. (

AP: Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi

)

Changes on the streets of Kabul

As the US left Afghanistan early yesterday morning, headlines around the world announced: 'the war is over'. 

But the young women of Afghanistan feel as if it is just beginning. 

The ABC has hidden the identity of the women we have spoken to for security reasons. 

"I am afraid. I feel very depressed," the young Kabul student said.  

"Now, if someone kills you on the street, no-one has the courage to ask why. 

"We understand that the West dealt with the Taliban, but as Afghan women we [cannot] forgive them unless they put the maximum pressure on Taliban to respect civil rights." 

When asked what she wanted, the student said: "I would like to continue my education without fear. I will do anything to achieve this goal." 

The Taliban had promised life under their rule would be different for women this time, but the student said there were already verbal threats on the streets that if "the world wasn't watching" there would be more violence.

"I lost my faith on that. They haven't changed," she said. 

"When I am out, I continuously think something bad will happen." 

A teenaged boy stands in front of a mosque holding bunches of white and black Taliban flags
Taliban flags are now for sale on the streets of Kabul. (

AP: Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi

)

A second young woman, who is hiding in Kabul, told the ABC: "The world left us alone. We were handed over to the Taliban." 

She said she was now in imminent danger. 

"The Taliban started searching home to home. They are searching for us. They killed a number of our colleagues. Some are arrested," she said. 

"I do not know what our fate will be. Nothing is predictable." 

The cash crisis in Kabul 

Right now, a lot of the anxiety over what happens next for Afghan people is underwritten by their financial desperation. 

Quite simply, they need money to buy food and the banks are either closed or only allowing $USD200 ($273) to be withdrawn each week, which is not enough for society to function as it did before.  

And accessing that cash means joining a very long line. 

"For that you have to spend the whole night, maybe two days to get that money," the student said.

"I have a relative that visited my father [and] walked 15 kilometres just because he couldn't afford to pay for the taxi or bus. He had relatively a good life.

A long line of men outside a Kabul building
The Taliban have limited weekly cash withdrawals in Afghanistan to $US200 — about $273.(

AP: Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi

)

Dr Omar Sadr, professor of political science at the American University of Kabul, was evacuated to India after the capital fell to the Taliban. 

"The people on the ground in Afghanistan are suffering," he said.

"In terms of a humanitarian tragedy, people are facing drought in rural areas. In the city, there is a great inflation and prices are skyrocketing. 

"People of Afghanistan [are] the poorest people who don't have access to any sort of basic livelihood now." 

As the Taliban moved across Afghanistan, more than 550,000 people were displaced. Many of them travelled to Kabul, hoping to seek shelter from conflict. 

The country is now facing a dire humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations.  

Afghanistan is cut off from most foreign aid, it is dealing with a devastating drought, mass displacement of its citizens and COVID-19.

"The evacuation effort has undoubtedly saved tens of thousands of lives, and these efforts are praiseworthy," UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said.

"But when the airlift and the media frenzy are over, the overwhelming majority of Afghans, some 39 million, will remain inside Afghanistan.

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Aid agencies warned the healthcare system could collapse after foreign donors suspended assistance.

But on Monday, a plane carrying 12.5 tonnes of World Health Organization medical supplies landed in northern Afghanistan — the first such shipment since the Taliban took control.

Last week, UNICEF reported it was working on positioning supplies ahead of the winter and would also avoid the Kabul airport. Instead, the plan is to bring aid in over the Pakistan border. 

What Afghan people hope for now 

The last remaining hopes are that the international community will continue to play a role, in particular applying pressure to the Taliban to uphold the rights of women, and that the resistance front in the Panjshir Valley — the only district not under Taliban control — can survive.  

"We need to have hope of a resistance and a resilience," Dr Sadr said. 

The ABC has heard multiple reports of villagers outside Kabul being forced to provide meals for Taliban soldiers, even when they do not have enough food to feed themselves. 

"They cannot support and feed their own members, how can [they] present a good life to the people?" the Kabul student told the ABC. 

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Dr Sadr agrees the Taliban is not capable of governing Afghanistan, but does not believe that will lead to them forming an inclusive government. 

He points out there is a difference between ruling people, and governing them. 

"The Taliban don't have the capacity, they don't have the knowledge to form a modern state, which ... has the ability to deliver services, for example education, healthcare, communications or transportation," Dr Sadr said. 

"Taliban have not changed, if there has been any change they have become more brutal, more radical, more conservative, more tribal. 

"There is no hope that the Taliban will share power ... to form an inclusive government." 

Three Taliban fights stand together with white flags.
Taliban fighters hold flags in Kabul, celebrating their victory in Afghanistan.(

AP: Khwaja Tawfiq Sediqi

)

On Monday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that called for the Taliban "to facilitate safe passage for people wanting to leave Afghanistan, allow humanitarians to access the country and uphold human rights, including for women and children".

Dr Sadr said the problem would be trying to hold the Taliban to account now that they were celebrating defeating America and its allies. 

"Their view is they have won this war and now the international community will not have any leverage to change their minds or their decisions," he said. 

"This is a fully fledged human catastrophe.

"What is the cost of this for us as human beings on the ground and what is the cost of this for the international community? Can we even calculate that cost? It's huge."

ABC/Reuters

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2021-08-31 19:01:06Z
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