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Taliban seizure of power: Afghan people at the consulate in Ückesdorf fear for their families

Taliban seizure of power : Afghan people at the consulate in Ückesdorf fear for their families

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have taken power. Afghans come to their country's consulate in Ückesdorf to quickly settle their affairs. How are their families back home? And do they believe the Taliban's promises?

Ashmad is afraid for his family. An hour ago, he spoke on the phone for the last time with his father in Afghanistan. "I want to do something to get them out," Ashmad says. "But the Germans only fly out people who have worked for the embassy or the Bundeswehr." His family fled Herat for Kabul to escape the Taliban.

His mother, father and five siblings are now holding out in the Afghan capital, which has since been captured by the Taliban. Like many others, they want to leave as soon as possible for fear of the Taliban. As media report, chaos reigns at the Kabul airport. It is said that Taliban fighters are checking people who are on their way to the airport.

21-year-old Ashmad is standing in front of the Afghan consulate in Ückesdorf and wants the staff to help him. They are supposed to issue him a passport. After all, who knows what will happen under Taliban rule and whether he will get the document then. Ashmad came to Germany on foot five years ago. He still has no papers. "I've been here six times," he says. "Just now they told me again that they can't help me. They would have to wait to see how the situation in Afghanistan develops.“

He worries mostly about his father. He has worked for the Afghan government and campaigned against the Taliban, he says. "And the Taliban know that." Recently, a Taliban spokesman had told journalists, "I still want to remind you that we will forgive everyone. Because that is the only way we can regain peace and stability. Anyone and everyone who was against us, we will forgive." Ashmad doesn't believe that. "They say that to gain people's trust," he says, suspecting that the Taliban will retaliate against anyone who worked for the government.

On Wednesday afternoon, the New York Times reported that there were protests in two cities against the Taliban takeover. In the city of Jalalabad, Taliban fighters fired into crowds and beat protesters and journalists.

Ashmad had Baran drive him to the consulate. He, too, fled Afghanistan several years ago. "All over the country, people are fleeing, they have nothing with them except a little money and clothes," he says. His family lives in Ghazni. The last time he spoke to them was two or three weeks ago, he says. "I don't know where they fled to," he says. Then he talks about what happened in his hometown: residents fought with police officers against the Taliban as they advanced. Eventually, he says, the mayor abandoned the town to the Taliban and fled.

Baran says, "The reports on TV are like watching a movie. Here, hardly anyone can imagine what it's really like." He has experienced nothing but the Taliban and war his whole life, he says. "You get used to it, just like you get used to getting up at six for work," he says.

Baran also doesn't believe the Taliban. "Of what they say, not even half of it is true," he says. The Taliban spokesman had announced, "We also want women to work: In the police, in health care and in other areas, we need women there, they are part of our society." Baran was still writing to a friend in Afghanistan recently, he said. "The Taliban say, 'You don't mind education, you don't mind women going to school.' But the school in our town is closed," he says. "She also told me that the Taliban beat up a girl for wearing a short dress.“

GA would like to know what the situation in Afghanistan means for the consulate. The consul cannot be reached by phone, only the mailbox answers. He also does not comply with a request to call back on Wednesday. At the consulate, a man claiming to be the consul's driver says that the consul is not there. But they should call again and make an appointment with him.

Rafi and Shuayb also have little luck with their request to get a passport. They, too, are turned away by the gatekeeper of the embassy. Rafi comes from Panjshir province in northern Afghanistan. "The Taliban have taken everything," he says. "I am very worried, my family and my fiancée are there." Women are now not allowed out and have to walk around completely veiled, he says. He last spoke to his family on the phone a few days ago. "I have no means to help them," he says.

Shuayb came to Germany when he was 14. "My uncle was with the Taliban," he says. "They wanted me to fight for them." That's why he fled, he says. His brother, he says, was not so lucky. He had to fight with the Taliban and is now dead, he says. He then shows a picture on his cell phone of his brother: On it, a young man is kneeling and leaning on a Kalashnikov. Only his mother is still alive, but he has not heard from her for years. Maybe she is in Pakistan. He would like to bring her to Germany. Rafi, too, would like his family to join him. He says, "We just want to live here in peace.“

(The people in this text actually have different names. We have given them other names to protect them and their families.)

(Original text: Dennis Scherer; Translation: Mareike Graepel)