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Taliban says no more evacuations until life improves for Afghans abroad

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KABUL: The Taliban will not allow any more Afghans to be evacuated until the situation improves abroad for those who have already left, their spokesman said on Sunday.

Families wanting to leave in the future would also need a good excuse for doing so, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a news conference, adding a promise to allow anyone to go abroad was not “continuous”.

More than 120,000 Afghans and dual nationals were evacuated up to August 31 when the last US-led troops withdrew, two weeks after the hardline Islamists seized Kabul.

Hundreds more were allowed to leave on flights after that, but the last official evacuation by air was on December 1.

Mujahid said the Taliban had received reports of thousands of Afghans “living in very bad conditions” in Qatar and Turkey. 

“The government has the responsibility to protect the people so this will be stopped until we get the assurance that their lives will not be endangered,” he said.

He was responding to a question about reports circulating on social media that border officials had been told not to allow anyone to be evacuated — including by road.

After seizing power, the Taliban promised Afghans would be allowed to come and go as they pleased as long as they had passports and visas for their destinations.

But they also allowed thousands of people without travel documents to leave, mostly families with individuals who worked for US-led forces, embassies, or other Western organizations over the last 20 years.

Thousands of people with similar links are still in Afghanistan, however, desperate to leave and fearful they may be targeted by the Taliban as “collaborators”.

He said families who did not have “an excuse” to leave the country, would not be allowed to do so.

Mujahid also said women would be barred from traveling abroad unless accompanied by a male chaperone.

“This is the order of Islamic sharia law,” he said, adding officials were examining ways to make sure this didn’t affect women who may have scholarships to study abroad.

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