Mayor escapes from Afghanistan: This is how I escaped the Taliban hell

Freedom tastes bitter-sweet. Zarifa Ghafari (27) has lost her home. And saved her life. The first female mayor of Afghanistan was rescued from Kabul on Thursday night.

▶ ︎ Behind Zarifa Ghafari lies a dramatic week. The last glimmer of hope that Kabul will offer a safe haven from the Taliban will fall on Sunday. Zarifa Ghafari is walking towards an exchange office. She survived three attacks by the Islamists: “I’ve been walking through town for three hours. The shops are closed. I’m trying to buy a visa (note: around 450 euros for India) and flight tickets (note: around 550 euros) – no matter how many. “

On Monday night, Ghafari leaves her apartment and hides with friends with her mother and five siblings. The Taliban are gradually bringing the city under their control. When civil planes no longer take off at the airport, chaos breaks out. They hope “that we will be evacuated”.

“Now they are looking for me”

On Wednesday morning she wrote: “They (the Taliban) were there, in my apartment. They trashed everything, set fire to our house and stole my car. Now they are looking for me. “

After dozens of conversations, she and her husband are on a German evacuation list that afternoon. She is supposed to come to the military part of the Kabul airport. But the way is blocked. The Taliban no longer let Afghans through. And a desperate crowd is already building up at the entrance. Security forces want to drive people away with stun grenades and warning shots.

But suddenly the tide turns. It is Islamic prayer time in the afternoon. Two cars with supporters stop in front of the door. They smuggle Zarifa Ghafari and her family through the city to the airport: “They let us out near the gate.” She wants to fight her way to the entrance. “It was impossible. I couldn’t get hold of a German soldier. We were trapped. “

In a hiding place in Kabul, Zarifa watches the news with her brother Ihsanulhaq

In a hiding place in Kabul, Zarifa watches the news with her brother IhsanulhaqPhoto: private

She calls a friend at the Turkish embassy. “He said he would send me a car.” It works! A little later she is on the cordoned off airport premises. “Here are zones for different countries. I can no longer switch to the German area. The soldiers won’t allow that, ”she reported over the phone. And: “I’m only now flying to Islamabad (note: Pakistan) and from there to Istanbul.”

The morning after, Ghafari reports from Turkey: “I landed. Now immigration control. ”The issuing of the papers takes several hours. Then she writes: “I am now on my way to a place to stay and dead tired. I’ve hardly slept or eaten for five days. “

Mayor escapes from Afghanistan: This is how I escaped the Taliban hell
Photo: BILD

On Friday she applied for a visa to enter Germany. But she’s stuck again. “I’m supposed to be in corona quarantine for seven days. I won’t be out of here that long. ”She wants to use the time – for her friends in her home country.

Map: evacuation from Afghanistan (Kabul) - infographic

“You have to hide from the Taliban. I will continue to fight for women in Afghanistan. And if possible, return to my country as soon as possible. It’s not over yet.”


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