January 24, 2022
On January 20, AMCD members met with Bahman Maalizadeh of the Norooz Foundation and Erica Saghar Kasraie to discuss what is happening with refugees from Afghanistan who fled to Tajikistan to escape the Taliban.
The Tajik government offers shelter to some of the Afghan refugees in the Vahdat Camp (translates as Unity Camp) that by Western standards resemble run-down apartments, but at least they are not in tents. There are roughly 3,280 Afghan refugee families housed there and the Norooz Foundation has been able to provide assistance for 30 families for three months, roughly 150 people.
Erica Saghar Kasraie traveled to the Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan and was there when it fell to the Taliban. She worked to bring Afghan refugees across the border to Tajikistan. Though they are provided with housing in Tajikistan, but most refugees are not allowed to work or to go to school. They are fully dependent on international aid. Any aid going to Afghanistan will be siphoned off by the corrupt leadership and very little of it will go to the people in need.
Question: Are these refugees mostly from the cities or the countryside?
Answer: They are a mixture. Some are highly educated and speak English well, others are illiterate, especially the women. Also, there are those with hatred and resentment in their hearts toward the US – many were evacuated into America and may turn to terrorism.
Question: What is the position of Tajikistan? We know they are close to Afghanistan culturally, but what is their real attitude?
Answer: Tajikistan is basically like Afghanistan culturally. Russia has great influence there. The Tajik government, like Russia, is very “by the book” in all their dealings with the refugees. They have taken in 12,000 Afghans and then the Russians told the Tajiks not to take any more without vetting for terrorists. The Russians crushed the protests in Kazakhstan and are afraid that the refuges will destabilize the region.
The Tajiks are very strict, but they do allow some refugees to work and to go to school, but they have to register with the government. As a result, some Afghan boys are being educated in the Russian and Tajik languages.
The Norooz Foundation has provided knitting materials for the women so that they can knit clothing which can be sold in the market for spending cash.
Some refugees want to continue the fight against the Taliban, but many feel betrayed by America and don’t’ want to return.
Question/Comment: As Afghanistan spirals down financially, they are burning anything they can find for warmth. It’s an ecological disaster too.
Question/Comment: We have been able to send some money to Afghanistan and it did get through. There is no way the Taliban can control the entire country. No one even knows the total population. We know it is between 10 and 30 million, but no one knows how many there are.
Answer: The US government should have done something about the corruption in Afghanistan years ago, but they basically allowed it to fester. We also give 100s of millions to Pakistan which only supports the Taliban. Part of that money should go to Tajikistan. The hundreds of millions we are sending to Afghanistan to help the people, will only help the Taliban and the Pashtuns. The various aid organizations are stuck paying off the Taliban at checkpoints just to move the stranded American citizens and others out of the country.
Question/Comment: There are 3 billion dollars of Afghan funds frozen in US banks. The Democrat Progressives want to release the money to the Taliban. We need to contact our representatives in Congress and demand they keep the money frozen so that it doesn’t go to strengthen the Taliban still further.
Question: Can you tell us about the Afghan Christians? I know many Christian missionaries are helping the refugees.
Answer: It is surprising how many Christians there are. They keep very quiet, of course. In Greece, we saw many Christians from Muslims lands and they were unbelievably grateful to receive a Bible from us. They are very secretive, of course, they have to be.