Why getting home for some Afghans is as difficult as fleeing – .

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Why getting home for some Afghans is as difficult as fleeing – .


For some, the denied transit in life came only after death.

When their mother died of respiratory illness in a Delhi hospital, Maryam and her brother spent two weeks commuting between the Pakistani mission to apply for visas, the Indian government to apply for permits and the Afghan embassy to help get those requests through.

At night, the siblings survived on instant noodles and slept in a cramped room. During the day, they went to the morgue to request extensions in order to keep their mother’s body there.

The family’s trip to India was to be a happy time for mother and daughter.

Maryam, once married as a child, drew on the income from her new work as a lawyer – and the savings from the sale of pine nuts – to pay for her mother’s treatment, whose suffering began long before her bouts of tuberculosis and of Covid-. 19. Like her daughter, she had also been a child wife who had lost her first husband in the war while she was pregnant.

Maryam once worked as a housekeeper in an office during the day, raised three children, and took evening literacy classes to finish high school. After graduating with a law degree six months ago, she got a job advocating for victims of abuse in one of the most conservative parts of southeastern Afghanistan.

When Kabul fell, Maryam considered sending her mother and brother home while she stayed behind to explore asylum options. She had been threatened because of her work even before the Taliban; a colleague was murdered outside the building where they all lived.

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