The U.N. predicts human rights violations, while Pope Francis asks the faithful for prayers.
Reports from a Jesuit priest who is stuck in Kabul paint a grim picture of Afghanistan’s descent into Taliban control. Father Jerome Sequeira, head of the Jesuit mission in Afghanistan, described thousands trying to flee the country through the airport. Meanwhile Taliban agents fired into the air to control the crowds.
The recent removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan marked the end of a 20-year military campaign. This prompt exit has led to Taliban forces retaking 33 of 34 Afghan provinces in a matter of days. Now, many attempt to flee the region rather than submit to the terror regime. The Taliban previously controlled the majority of Afghanistan from 1996 – 2001.
Vatican News reports that Father Sequeira compared the airport to the “chaotic railway station[s],” of his native India. He said:
“Thousands of people are trying to flee. I managed to reach the second gate but then Taliban were shooting in the air and trying to control the crowd. Before my reaching, thousands of people had managed to enter the airport building but the entire airport staff had abandoned the place. Without any security check and boarding passes people had gone into the flight.”
Fr. Sequeira explained that the Jesuit mission in Afghanistan has been suspended in the wake of the crisis. Now, all flights out of the country have been canceled. Their resumption is dependent on talks between the Taliban and the United Nations.The U.N. has called for an immediate end of hostilities, but formal talks have yet to begin.
In a report from Licas News, Fr. Sequeira explained that the Taliban is currently busy “occupying all government systems,” and installing their people into positions of authority. The priest said that the extremist group has not initiated violence on civilians, but he believes it is soon to come.
“They are not harming the civilians at the moment, but it will come once they fully captured all the systems of the country,” said the Jesuit. He said the militant group has a list of all organizations. “In some places they have started door-to-door inquiries about the personnel of organizations.”
Missionaries of Charity
According to Vatican News, there are also four nuns from the Missionaries of Charity (MC) stranded in Afghanistan. A senior nun at the MC headquarters in Kolkata confirmed that one nun is Indian, but refused to give any more information for their safety’s sake. The Missionaries of Charity have been working in Afghanistan since 2004.
The U.N. has already called for the installation of a new government in Afghanistan. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the Taliban is likely to ignore human rights in its rise to power. The U.N. also predicts that there may soon be a rash of violations against women and girls.
Pope Francis has requested the faithful direct their prayers to Afghanistan. During his August 15 Angelus, the pontiff said:
“I join in the unanimous concern for the situation in Afghanistan. I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue. Only thus can the battered population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”