From Kabul to Lille, the exfiltration of a family of threatened Afghan women

Seven months of agony and finally freedom, at the expense of high-risk exfiltration and exile: an Afghan family made up entirely of women has just been reunited in Lille, where one of the daughters, a journalist and Taliban target, has been a refugee since 2019

«When my mother arrived she slept for a week, everything she hadn’t slept for seven monthssays Suraya Alizada, 28, since the Taliban takeover from the apartment that Lille City Hall has made available to the five women in his family.

Her 13- and 16-year-old nieces, on the other hand, happen”outside all the time“, after these months that I spent holed up in a room at five o’clock.

«The Taliban make no distinction between my family and me, to them they are just as “guilty” as I am“Suraya told AFP in September that he feared for the lives of those close to him.

In 2017, while working for a newspaper, she received death threats from the Taliban and was forced to flee Afghanistan before being granted asylum in France in 2019.

When the Taliban invaded Kabul, his mother, nieces and two sisters hid with acquaintances who risked harboring them, but in exchange for large sums of money.

“900 files”

Even without threats, they would have encountered great difficulty on a daily basis without the male relative whose presence the Taliban require for ever-increasing public space activities.

In this Hazara minority family – an aggravating circumstance in the eyes of the Taliban -“There is no man because my father died 20 years ago and my nieces parents my sister and brother in law, military were killed by Taliban with their 6 months old son, he about ten years agosummarizes Suraya.

In August, the Alizadas did not benefit from the airlift, which in particular allowed Afghans who had worked for France to flee the country.

Martine Aubry is now directly involved in the evacuation of threatened figures in Lille, thanks to years of connections with Afghan refugees. She finds herself with a mountain of files from Afghans who have settled in France and want to take their loved ones there. “I turned over 900 files to the State Department and went on fighting four“, including that of Alizada, says the socialist-elect.

“All for All”

The Quai d’Orsay assures him that priority will be given to this family when new flights are organized, but after some additional evacuations via Qatar, no flights leave Kabul for France from October.

Ultimately, “I was told “offer them Pakistan, we’ll give them visas”, says Mrs. Aubry. “We couldn’t wait for a hypothetical plane, we tried everything for everything».

The threat is getting closer, the Taliban are digginghouse by house‘ says Suraya.

At 1am on a rainy night in early March, thanks to logistics managed by Lille, two cars arrive to pick up the five women, who are distributed among the vehicles to attract less attention. It will take them eight hours to reach the Pakistani border, passing through several Taliban checkpoints.

«My heart was beating very fast at the thought of them recognizing us.” says Suraya’s mother, 71, with a parchment-like smiling face framed by a black veil.

Finally the limit. A car is waiting for them on the other side, which will take them to Islamabad, from where they will reach France a few days later.

«The reception of the French gave us hope for our livessmiles Sedeqa, 33, who hopes to work as a nurse after learning French.

Two teenagers, Kawsar and Khojesta, will soon have to attend a French college, weeks after the Taliban reversed their decision to allow Afghan women to study in secondary schools. For his part, between two steps for his relatives, Suraya Alizada passes the competition of the journalism school of Lille.

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