Afghans in Ireland: ‘We are deeply in shock about what is happening’

Ireland’s large Afghan community expresses sadness and fear at Taliban resurgence

Sharifa Wasie: ‘I was there for seven or eight years when the Taliban were in government . . . I can’t even talk about how badly they treated women’

Sharifa Wasie: ‘I was there for seven or eight years when the Taliban were in government . . . I can’t even talk about how badly they treated women’

 

The fall of the Afghanistan government and the resurgence of the Taliban has shocked the growing Afghan community in Ireland.

Sharifa Wasie (48), a healthcare worker, came to Ireland shortly after the US invasion of the country in 2001. She can only remember strife in Afghanistan from the time she was a child, when the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979.

Like the majority of Afghan nationals in Ireland, she is anti-Taliban and thinks what is unfolding in her country is an international disaster.

“I can’t even talk about how badly they treated women,” she said. “I was there for seven or eight years when the Taliban were in government. They never gave any rights to women.

“Since I was a little baby, all I can remember is war. I don’t remember any happiness, any celebration, any happy times with my family.”

Ms Wasie’s family still lives in Afghanistan and she visited in October last year. Her sister works as a teacher and her brother as a state architect. As government employees, they fear for their survival under the Taliban.

She had heard that forgiveness cards were given out by the Taliban to government workers in occupied provinces, but shortly afterwards “they killed these people”.

“We are all alone. I am talking to my family who are saying that somebody will knock on their door and they will be attacked.”

Ms Wasie said a photograph of bodies being thrown into a hole by the Taliban is a warning what will happen to its enemies in the coming weeks.

She blames successive US administrations for the chaos enveloping her country: Barack Obama’s pledge not to send any more troops to the country; Donald Trump’s decision to insist that 5,000 Taliban prisoners be freed; and Joe Biden’s determination to press ahead with the evacuation of all US troops out of the country.

“I blame him [Biden],” she said. “Why did he do this? He was promising until yesterday that the Afghan government would stand for us. It is just a game to the Americans.

“The Taliban shouldn’t have the power, they shouldn’t have the country. They are not the people who can run the country. They are not the people who can bring peace. We are deeply in shock about what is happening.”

‘Very difficult’

Nasrudin Saljoqi, the chairman of the Afghan Community and Cultural Association of Ireland, said he is worried for the fate of women in his country.

“Women do not have a right to wear what they want. If they want to go anywhere, they have to wear a burka,” he said.

“I am worried about the people who have to live there. The whole international community have to think about what is going on now they have left Afghanistan and forgot about the people.

“My brother has three daughters in university and at school. This is going to be very difficult for them. We have had progress in the last 20 years. We have women going to university. What is going to happen now?”

Mr Saljoqi said when he came to Ireland in 2000, there were only five or six Afghan families in the country. Now the population is closer to 3,000, he believes.

The census of 2016 shows 1,700 Afghan citizens living in Ireland.

Irish citizens

Meanwhile the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin is advising all Irish citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately, and confirmed a number of citizens are in touch with the Irish consulate in Abu Dhabi.

“If you are currently in Afghanistan, you are advised to leave as soon as possible by commercial means due to the worsening security situation. Irish citizens in Afghanistan should contact the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi to confirm their departure plans,” it said.

“There are limits to the assistance the Department of Foreign Affairs can provide in a crisis and you should not rely on the Department of Foreign Affairs being able to evacuate you from Afghanistan in an emergency.

“We cannot guarantee that we will be in a position to offer consular assistance should you decide to remain there,” it added.