Inside Afghanistan, a mad scramble to save those left behind
The avenues of escape for trapped journalists are crumbling. Only the U.S. government may be able to rescue them now.
Journalism is too opaque and misunderstood. Chills gives a behind-the-scenes look at how dangerous investigative journalism gets made.
The gate to Kabul’s former U.S. “Green Zone” stands deserted. There are no canines in its small K-9 unit shed. A portico under which American vehicles used to pass is unmanned, and the traffic lights have been turned off. This is the description inside Kabul from a source on the ground, who told me what had become of the gate through which she would pass each morning to go to work, before the Taliban came.
Yet within the now-abandoned safe zone, people terrified of the Taliban are clinging to what it once symbolized: a harbor for an oppressed people from a fundamentalist, terrorist regime. A number of Afghans targeted for retribution — activists, journalists, ethnic minorities — are now hiding there, despite the surrounding presence of armed Taliban patrols.
I spoke with one journalist who is lying low in the former security zone, on the condition of anonymity because she fears for her safety. The woman worked for an Afghan TV station until the Taliban overtook the city on Aug. 15. She showed up at work the following day and was told she no longer had a job; a man from the Taliban had replaced her. That same day, two Taliban members searched her home, and she fled. She had to leave three of her brothers behind.
Now, she is one of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans doing everything they can to find a way out. But, at this point, she sees no escape route.
“Everyone is rushing to the borders,” the woman, who is in her early 20s, told me. “I’m waiting for an opportunity so I can save my life.”
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