Taliban government resumes issuing Afghan passports in Kabul – the New Indian Express

Through AFP

Afghan Taliban officials said on Saturday they would resume issuing passports in Kabul, giving hope to citizens who feel threatened with living under Islamist rule.

Thousands of Afghans have requested new travel documents to escape a growing economic and humanitarian crisis described by the United Nations as a “hunger avalanche”.

Authorities will start issuing the documents from Sunday at the Kabul passport office, Alam Gul Haqqani, head of the Interior Ministry’s passport department, told reporters.

The Taliban stopped issuing passports shortly after they returned to power on August 15, as tens of thousands of people rushed to Kabul’s only airport in an attempt to catch an international flight that could evacuate them.

In October, authorities reopened the passport office in Kabul to suspend work a few days later as a flood of requests caused the biometric equipment in use to fail.

“All technical issues have now been resolved,” Haqqani said, adding that initially travel documents will be handed over to those who already applied before the office suspended its work.

New applications will be accepted from January 10, he said.

Many Afghans who wanted to travel to neighboring Pakistan for medical treatment were stranded for months for lack of valid passports.

“My mother has health issues and we were supposed to go to Pakistan a long time ago, but we couldn’t because the passport service was closed,” said Jamshid, who like many Afghans only wears only one name.

“We’re happy now that… we can get our passports and go to Pakistan.”

The issuance of passports is also seen as a test of the Taliban’s commitment to the international community to enable eligible people to leave amid the growing humanitarian crisis.

The Taliban are pressuring donors to return billions of dollars in aid that were suspended when the previous West-backed regime imploded in the final stages of a US military withdrawal.

The abrupt suspension of aid was an “unprecedented” fiscal shock to an economy already stricken by drought and decades of war, according to the United Nations Development Program.

The crisis has forced many residents of the capital to sell household goods to buy food for their families.

International flights, mainly to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, slowly resumed at Kabul airport after the facility was ransacked in August when crowds of people rushed to evacuate.


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