At HumanRights360, even before the recent catastrophic collapse of the Afghan government and haphazard withdraw of U.S. and other international security forces from the country, we provided much needed aid to vulnerable Afghan women and their families seeking freedom, safety in Greece. For the last three years, much of our efforts have been devoted to the well-being of Afghan unaccompanied minors – many of which are Hazara, a minority group regularly targeted by the Taliban. The stories and ordeals of these children were, sadly, precursors of the strife now tangibly evident on a much broader scale.
Drawing on our experience aiding those fleeing harm, and in cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the relevant Greek authorities, despite initial challenges we have established a humanitarian corridor to transport those most at-risk from the Taliban takeover. Our initial airlift attempt was canceled at the last minute due to explosions at Kabul airport. As a result, we re-doubled our efforts. Today we welcome the arrival of an additional group arriving in Athens. In partnership with the Melissa Network, the Greek Prime Minister’s office, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Greek Ministry for Migration and the Secretary General of Immigration Policy, Patroklos Georgiadis, the Greek Police, the U.S. Embassy in Athens, and with the invaluable support of the Open Society Foundations — especially Manos Moschopoulos and Gregory Maniatis — we managed to bring to Greece heroic Afghan women and their families. We are encouraged that so many public and private entities collaborate closely together. These women include former members of the parliament, judges, lawyers, activists, athletes and many more.
Our efforts continue. Each of the Afghans we have helped save is a living affirmation of our values, the principles of humanity and in defense of human rights. The return of the Taliban has brought with it a shadow threatening the freedoms gained through years of struggle – for women, minorities, and others. You need only look at the plight of such groups in Taliban seized territory in recent years, and their consequent exodus from such areas and eventually from the country entirely. That the country as a whole is on the brink of starvation adds yet another, deeper threat and source of insecurity.
We knew from the beginning that Greece, like many other countries, must be a refuge for women and others persecuted by the Taliban regime.