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2 Years After Taliban Takeover, Women and Girls, Refugees and Ordinary Afghans Face Dire Conditions

HeadlineAug 16, 2023

Tuesday marked two years since the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan, after a failed U.S. invasion and a two-decades-long occupation. Afghans face spiraling human rights and humanitarian crises, made worse by the U.S. refusing to release billions in Afghan deposits in U.S. banks, and the Taliban’s ban on women working in most sectors, preventing the U.N. and other international aid agencies from delivering services and operating in the country. Women and girls have largely been erased from public life. This is 24-year-old Hosna in Kabul.

Hosna: “I didn’t think the Taliban would take over the country one day. And after they succeeded, their restrictions on women have increased day by day and caused us many problems. As far as I’m concerned, the victory day of the Taliban is the worst day for the people of Afghanistan.”

A U.N. envoy has called on the International Criminal Court to prosecute Afghan officials for crimes against humanity over their treatment of women and girls.

According to the U.N., more than 1.6 million Afghans have fled the country in the past two years, with Pakistan receiving the highest number of refugees, around 600,000. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Afghans who were employed by American forces or contractors have been awaiting resettlement in the U.S. or for their visa applications to be processed. Many now say they are stuck in limbo. Eighteen-year-old Marwa, whose father worked as a guard for an American NGO, lives with 11 other family members in a tiny rental near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad as they await news of their U.S. visas amid dwindling savings.

Marwa: “Here, we only have one room with a kitchen. Our space is very tight. We cannot go back to Afghanistan. My father will be killed. We want to reach our destination as soon as possible to study there, because everything is favorable there. We can neither study nor live here and in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Taliban to end its persecution of journalists, lamenting, “Afghanistan’s once vibrant free press is a ghost of its former self.”

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