Afghans who fled their country after the Taliban took over in August 2021 have denied rumours that they are living in miserable conditions.
Afghans living in Doha’s Park View Villas insist that there is no way they will go back to their homeland. Although their future in Qatar is as of yet uncertain, they are fully availing facilities in a stable, modern, developed society.
More than 75,000 Afghans have entered Qatar since the Taliban took over. Qatar had also brokered a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States. It has often played the role of an intermediary in the Taliban’s relations with the outside world.
One hundred Afghans are residing at Park View at present. It is a compound in the capital Doha, which was built to house officials for this year’s football World Cup. Two hundred others were moved this week to a nearby US camp for processing to be relocated to the United States.
The compound’s streets resemble a quiet US neighbourhood with weekly dance parties at nightclubs.
On the contrary, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared last week that the Taliban believed thousands of Afghans were “living in very bad conditions” in Qatar and Turkey.
The residents on the other hand are savoring the freedom and security.
“The situation here is much better than being at home and suffering over your dark future in Afghanistan,” said Thamina Heerawie who is teaching at a nursery school in the US compound.
Taliban regained power in August with a lightning offensive that capped a two-decade insurgency against a Western-backed government supported by a US-led international force.
The Afghans can only leave Park View on guided day trips to parks, museums and sports events.
However, despite months having passed since their arrival, there is no possibility of a permanent home yet.
Authorities have opened a mental health clinic to help them cope with stress and anxiety due to their uncertain future.
Mia Kamal Ud Din, a carpet maker who fled with his family, said the uncertainty played on the minds of many.
“It is a little bit difficult but they look after us very well and we don’t have problems living here. It is just that we do not have a permit to go outside,” he said.
Nearly all residents interviewed said they had heard grim accounts of conditions back home.
The Qatari government has also questioned the Taliban’s comments about Afghans living miserably in Qatar.
The United States said it would be “relentless” in its efforts to help those with the proper papers leave Afghanistan. Qatar and Turkey are also pushing the Taliban to open flights for those who wish to leave the country.
“Our ability to facilitate relocation for our Afghan allies also depends on the Taliban living up to its commitment of free passage,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.