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'Taliban would have killed me': Afghan on his ordeal fleeing to Italy

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By Giorgia Orlandi
Evacuees aboard a US military aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Aug. 21, 2021
Evacuees aboard a US military aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Aug. 21, 2021   -   Copyright  AP

Fearing for his life under Taliban rule, an Afghan national who escaped recently to Italy has been telling Euronews about his ordeal.

The man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said within hours of the Taliban taking power he knew he had to get out.

That is because having worked for Italian institutions and firms in Afghanistan, he felt he'd be a target for the group.

“If the Taliban found me they would kill me,” he told Euronews.

Before leaving his home he burnt all his papers, keen not to leave anything behind. He raced to the airport without knowing whether his wife and the rest of his family would join him. He recalls the ordeal of three days waiting for a flight out of the country.

“People started gathering at the main gate they wanted to enter," he said. "At one point my wife could not control my daughter anymore, that’s why she fell on the ground. The crowd stepped on her. Luckily she didn’t get hurt. The day after they had to wait under the sun without drinking, without food that’s when my two other sons fainted.”

The man is from Panjshir, the last stronghold against Taliban rule. Another reason why he and his family feel particularly in danger if the Taliban discover his identity. His parents still live there.

He tells Euronews about the risks he faces: "If one day the Taliban capture my parents and they tell them if your son doesn’t come back we are going to kill you. I would come back to Afghanistan to spare their lives. I am not afraid. I am not afraid to die.”

Evacuations have become a race against time, not just for civilians but also for NGOs that have been working in the country and are now trying to help with the airlift. 

Italy NGO Pangea Onlus Foundation has been supporting women rights in Afghanistan since the early 2000s. It has been working around the clock to evacuate both its staff and as many civilians as possible.

Luca Lo Presti, its president, explained how difficult it has been to flee Afghanistan.

“Crowds waiting outside the airport are in a state of shock," he said. "They need help and they call us over the phone. We offer them psychological support to make them react so that they don't give up easily. We often tell these people: 'Come on you can make it, don’t cry, just run otherwise you will not be able to save yourself'."