Rise to Peace blog

Desperate Afghan Women Wait for U.S. Resettlement in Abu Dhabi

Authors note: The memo is written by evacuees’ representatives on behalf of the Afghan women residing in the Emirates Apartments complex known as Emirates Humanitarian City-EHC since August 2021, demanding US resettlement. An estimated 12,000 Afghan nationals were transported to Abu Dhabi between the months of August-December 2021 by the US government and private chartered airplanes. 

On this International Women’s Day, we demand an immediate US resettlement. March 8th also coincides with the day of free and brave women (girls, mothers, sisters) who raised their voices, urging immediate processing of their cases so we can get out of this bad condition. 

We are a large number of intellectual women who were engaged in different activities our the country; media, social, cultural, economic, and political, who we all opposed the Taliban ideology. Since the Taliban takeover, the mysterious killing of women activists in every sector and with every specialty has repeatedly been reported in the news and is a human rights violation.

We are stranded in Abu Dhabi for the past 6+ months, concerned about the future our of children and ourselves living in limbo. Every day, we wake up thinking and hoping something good to happen. We are hoping for a better life and nobody wanted this if it wasn’t because of the war and what happened in our homeland.

In August 2021, Afghanistan witnessed the “fall of the regime” and the whole governance of Afghanistan is now ruled by the Taliban. Since then, Afghan women who did not agree with Taliban ideologies and could not go back to the dark ages, have been evacuated with clear determination and have been forced to leave their homeland in various ways to save their lives.

In the first few days of the US noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO), due to the unorganized and chaotic evacuation, thousands poured inside Kabul International Airport (HKIA) via different means and later boarded on US C-17 and other civilian planes to various countries, mainly Qatar and later UAE. 

As everybody was running to the airport for their lives, it created fear and anxiety among the vulnerable people, including women who decided to run as well. Upon arrival at the airport, they were all evacuated by the US military. Many that were boarded on different planes to different countries under the same evacuation operation are being treated differently.

Those people whose lives were at risk as a result of their employment and other ethnic and religious were evacuated to Qatar and Abu Dhabi camps on charter flights with the help of US-backed private agencies. Those who reached Qatar, are in the US and started a new life while we are still in limbo in Abu Dhabi.

We want justice and transparency. Why our resettlement to the US is different from those Afghan evacuees that were transported to Qatar and then to the US? Why the United States has repeatedly stated that they have no responsibility to those who have been evacuated by the NGOs or Charter Flights?

Today the US government is either unaware or intentionally doing a double standard in the treatment of us versus those who boarded similar planes from the same airport. For example, those evacuated to Qatar in August, their documents were quickly reviewed and then resettled to their final destination, the United States. Sadly, we were evacuated to Abu Dhabi and then forgotten as we are being processed differently by the US government in regards to the processing of our documents, and urge the US government to apply the same process similar to those taken to Qatar.

We need answers from the US government on what will happen to us, women that have been promoted by the US and western world to shout for justice and freedom in Afghanistan the past 20 years? You gave us hope and supported us to stand against terrorism and tyranny as we worked towards the development of their country and then we were abandoned. Now that we are evacuated to Abu Dhabi by your permission (US Government), have to spend months and even years in the camp away from our loved ones who are living under harsh financial and mental conditions. We need immediate relocation to the US so we can start working and be able to support our left behind families financially.  

Thousands with no immigration cases or valid documents have already reached America, and the fact is that we are skilled and knowledgeable people here. Among us, there are women politicians, businesswomen, lawyers, judges, writers, journalists, and artists, most of whom are highly qualified and have years of work experience.

We are suffering from depression, mental illnesses due to the uncertainty of our future. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) provides us with three times meals a day inside the camps and occasional hygiene items and we are not allowed to go outside. We are grateful to the UAE government but we are no different than prisoners. We didn’t’ want this, you (USG) brought us here. The UAE government recently opened some schools and kinder garden.

Everybody in here says: “Life is not just about eating and sleeping.”

As we have observed, the Taliban regime is re-enforcing extreme Sharia law of their version, banning women from education, declined their jobs at the high level of the government or the private sector. Many were dropped out of school, excluded from social activities, and are not allowed to travel in and out of the city even without a confidant (Mahram). The world “remained silent” against the current Taliban, believing that the current Taliban are not the same ones as they were 20 years ago.

Many girls were killed for no reason, and even a group that raised their voices against Taliban oppression was killed, threatened, or fled, so the women in the camp cannot return to Afghanistan at all. They are here because they conflict with the Taliban ideology and their policies, and the Taliban are destroying those who oppose them. I hope that events such as the Ukraine-Russia war do not differentiate between Ukrainian women and Afghan women and put an end to this misfortune.

Congratulations on 8th March to the women around the world, as well as to the women of the Abu Dhabi Camps who have realized the months of waiting and future with their flesh and blood.

We want the world to hear our voices and take an immediate decision in regards to our resettlement to the US and third countries. 

On International Women’s Day, Afghan evacuated women request the International Community – especially the USA Specifically Kamala D. Harris – to reach out to Afghan evacuees in Abu Dhabi and take them out of the current limbo status. A total of 12,000 evacuated Afghans have been here since August 2021 with an unknown future.  Their voices need to be heard and the proper decision should be adopted on their resettlement process at the soonest possible.

Please do not forget us.

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