Afghans already fleeing because of Obama's retreat
Sixteen years after he fled from the Taliban, Zia Ahmadi was back at the Kabul airport, waiting for the body of a cousin who tried to do the same.
Zia had done what he thought was best for his cousin, Javed Ahmadi, offering a smuggler $15,000 to shuttle him out of Afghanistan and away from insurgents. By December, Javed, 19, was halfway through an arduous 3,500-mile trip from Helmand province to Zia’s home in Sweden, running from the same Taliban that Zia escaped in 1997.
But the smuggler’s overloaded skiff capsized off the coast of Greece, and Javed’s body washed ashore with 21 others, nearly all of them Afghan refugees eager to leave their country before U.S. troops do next year. Now Zia was back in Kabul to bury his cousin.
Two decades after Afghanistan witnessed one of the 20th century’s most dramatic refugee crises, a quieter exodus is gaining momentum. Zia Ahmadi was part of the first generation of Afghan refugees. His cousin aspired to be part of the second.
Last year, at least 50,000 Afghans fled to Europe and Australia, more than twice as many as the previous year, according to the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations. With U.S. and many other foreign visas nearly impossible to obtain, the majority of those refugees hired human smugglers. Even more left for Pakistan and Iran. One-third of the world’s refugees are Afghans, according to the United Nations.
The flight reflects a growing fear that security will worsen after NATO’s military withdrawal by the end of 2014, a date that has taken on near-apocalyptic symbolism in parts of the country. Afghan officials have launched a campaign to warn against illegal migration, distributing brochures nationwide that feature photos of capsized boats and drowning Afghans.
...Besides telling you how little confidence Afghans have in their government, it also tells you just how loathsome the Taliban are. No one in their right mind wants to be ruled by this bunch of illiterate religious bigots. There are more reasons to leave than to stay.