Home Kent News The Afghan communities across Kent ‘traumatised’ as Taliban return to power

The Afghan communities across Kent ‘traumatised’ as Taliban return to power

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Original article from Kent Live

Afghan communities said to exist in "every town in Kent" are "traumatised" by the tragic scenes amid the Taliban's retaking of power in their home country.

Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) says it is currently providing a form of support to around 100 people from Afghanistan.

Its centre in Folkestone is primarily used to look after unaccompanied children, many of whom have arrived in Dover in recent months after perilous journeys on dinghies.

Read more: The Kent beaches set to be wiped out by climate change

KRAN's Bridget Chapman said adult Afghans helped previously were now also coming back to them for advice and support.

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The Taliban, a military group widely feared for their violence hard-line stances on everything from religious doctrine to women's rights, were ousted from power when Western forces invaded the country in 2001.

But 20 years later they have retaken control following a devastating offensive.

It ended with major cities captured one by one in recent days, culminating in the fall of Kabul on Sunday.

Chaotic scenes were captured in the capital yesterday (August 16), particularly at the airport where thousands have been pictured trying to flee, some even falling to their deaths from the undersides of planes they were clinging to.

Hundreds run alongside a US Air Force plane as it moves down a runway of Kabul airport

"They are traumatised by what's going on," Bridget told KentLive.

"It's the lives of their family and friends, not just in Kabul but all over Afghanistan.

"People are just extremely worried about what's going to happen.

"Then there's the people who are waiting for asylum applications to be heard.

"About half are refused first time around – and in many cases the reason they are refused is because it's been deemed safe to them to return to Kabul.

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint near the US embassy

"Of course it isn't and hasn't been for some time.

"The Home Office finally removed that advice on Sunday, but as of yet there's no replacement advice.

"It means you have all these young people who think they are going to be returned and they are terrified."

Bridget said that Kent was home to a number of Afghan communities given its proximity to the continent.

"In almost every town in Kent there's an Afghan community," she said.

Young people learn at the Kent Refugee Action Network centre in Folkestone

"Kent is the place where people arrive and these young people often stay in Kent.

"They are supposed to stay until at least the age of 21, but many stay after that and are now working here as taxi drivers, health care assistants in NHS hospitals, in care homes or they've set up their own businesses.

"At least 20 young people have also arrived in dinghies in the last year or so.

"They have been sent by their families because they are getting to an age where they are expected to go and fight for the Taliban.

"There's a narrative in this country that these are young men of fighting age so they should stay where they are.

People hold up their certificates acknowledging work for Americans as hundreds of people at Kabul airport

"But they are coming precisely because of that – they don't want to fight for the Taliban."

KRAN has also outlined the profound impact the images we are all seeing on our TV screens are having on the young people they are looking after.

The group said it was trying to put on as many activities for them as possible so that they can at least try to think of something else.

"None of them have had any sleep," said Bridget.

"Some of them are talking to family and friends caught up in it, and some are unable to because of communication problems and they have to follow it on the news.

"We organised a cricket match for a group of Afghan boys recently and it was clear none of them have been sleeping.

"They don't talk about it – they tell us is they can't talk about it, can't bear to think about it, it's just too difficult.

"That was before the images from Kabul of people falling from planes.

"I can't process it, so how on earth they are processing it I don't know.

"They have already come here having seen people shot, executed and blown to bits in front of them."

Original Article