Taliban invasion of Kabul Bonn family fears for Afghan relatives

Bonn · Pari S. wants to get her relatives out of Afghanistan because they fear for their lives. But the Foreign Office and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees do not answer.

 Pari S. lives with her husband and three children in Auerberg. She fears for the lives of her relatives in Afghanistan.

Pari S. lives with her husband and three children in Auerberg. She fears for the lives of her relatives in Afghanistan.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Pari S. and her family are sad survivors. On Aug. 6, they returned to Germany from Afghanistan on one of the last regular planes. "I have never seen the sky over Kabul so angry," says the 37-year-old mother of three, who has lived in Auerberg with her husband for many years. The night before her return, the horizon burned brightly. The rockets announced the invasion of the Taliban, which happened a little later.

The children hardly slept that night. They were afraid they would not be able to return home. And Pari S.'s voice fails her when she reports about the thunder caused by the detonations that day. For a long time they had considered whether to risk the visit to their relatives that they had planned for a long time. In the end, they decided to go because their 14-year-old son, who attends a high school in Bonn, had not seen the grandparents for nine years. The seven-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, both of whom attend a Bonn elementary school, did not meet their Afghan relatives face-to-face until this opportunity.

Pari S. and her husband have had German citizenship for many years. Their children were born in Germany. She works in a dental practice, he as a conference manager for Telekom. They have built a life in Bonn and now they fear for the lives of their Afghan relatives.

37-year-old wants to save her relatives

The 37-year-old wants to leave no stone unturned to protect them from the Taliban. For Pari S., there is no question that the Islamist terrorists are after the lives of her father, mother and the families of her siblings. "My father taught at Herat University and worked as a journalist. I know they are already looking for him because of his work for democracy and freedom of expression," she says. She says her father never wanted to leave his country, but now the time has come when it is a matter of life and death.

Her father, mother and one sister hid from the henchmen, as did her brother, who was the editor-in-chief of a magazine that also took a stand on political issues. The brother-in-law worked as a civil engineer for an Italian company and was mayor of the municipality of Herat in the west of the country. His wife studied law and politics. She advocated for human and women's rights, Pari S. says of her sister. "They are all not safe there anymore."

Pari S. drafted letters last week, transcribing lines from her father and siblings into German. She sent them to both the German Foreign Office and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf). She has submitted documents from the family members that prove their journalistic work and commitment to liberal values. Careers that could now be their undoing. The letters are available to the GA. They also deal with disappointment and desperate hope. "The German government has been a supporter of the Afghan people and will definitely not leave the Afghan people alone. I hope you will rescue us from Afghanistan," the brother writes.

For Pari S., who does not want to see the names of her relatives published so as not to get them into more trouble, the safety of her closest relatives and their children lies outside Afghanistan. "They have to get out of there. They need to get on the evacuation lists." But she has yet to receive a response to her emails to the German Foreign Office and the Bamf. No confirmation of receipt, no sign of explanation, no phone call. But time is running out, as U.S. President Joe Biden stands by his announcement to withdraw troops from Afghanistan on Aug. 31. The G7 countries' call for an extension was unsuccessful. As a result, Germany could not continue the evacuations either, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Foreign Office leaves inquiry unanswered

The Foreign Office left an inquiry of the GA on the concrete case of Pari S. unanswered. It soberly reports that the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent weeks. Since last week Monday, the evacuation of German citizens and "other endangered people" has been ongoing. Some local Afghan forces who have helped the Germans over two decades have since been flown out. But what is meant by "further endangered people" is a question that the Foreign Office does not answer adequately.

The Bamf could neither confirm nor deny the receipt of Pari S.'s mail. As spokesman Jochen Hövekenmeier told the GA, the mail volume exceeds 15 times the usual. He said that the Bamf and the Foreign Office want to offer a registration tool on their website to better coordinate and check the arrivals of those seeking help. But the Foreign Office is responsible for the names that ultimately end up on the evacuation lists. And even those who end up on these lists face the difficult task of getting to Kabul airport in the first place.

Original text: Philipp Königs

Translation: Mareike Graepel

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