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Society

Afghan Refugee in Greece Begs World to Save Those Left Behind

For one of thousands of Afghan asylum seekers in Greece, the fall of her country to the terrorist organization the Taliban means those who didn't leave could face brutal and deadly retaliation and she wants the the world to help them. 

Elena – who didn't want to give her last name – lives in a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos and said she's afraid for friends and family back home after the Afghan military, trained and equipped for 20 years by the US, gave up.

 “It’s a disaster,” the 21-year-old told the news agency Reuters. “What will happen now in Afghanistan for [the] young generation? For children? For women’s rights? Everything is destroyed by the Taliban.”

She was one of about Afghan asylum seekers and local activists taking part in a protest late, holding up a large Afghan flag and sitting near a banner that read: “We say no to Taliban.”

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, there were massacres, the destruction of national heritage artifacts and a brutal regime of repression that was especially aimed at women, often stoned to death for minor offenses.

This time, with the world watching with trepidation, the Taliban has promised to be softer and respect women's rights and protect the population, but it wasn't believed as scores of thousands flocked to the airport in the capital Kabul.

There are about 2,500 Afghans on Lesbos, seeking sanctuary but waiting two years or more for applications to be processed, among nearly 100,000 in Greece in island and mainland camps.

“All the Afghan people are crying,” said Elena, who helped organize the protest rally. “I expect from the world, please support Afghanistan, don’t leave Afghan people alone,” she pleaded.

Greek officials, fearing a tidal wave of arrivals from Afghanistan, want a coordinated response from the EU – which already closed its borders to them and with many countries refusing to help or reneging on pledges to take some.

Elena said regardless of what the Taliban says that it will be hell for women in her country who will have no rights.

“Women cannot be educated. Women cannot go out from their house, they should stay in the house because they don’t feel safe. I have my friends in Afghanistan, they are panicked, they don’t know what they can do,” she said.

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