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Hundreds crowd into Kabul passport office hoping to escape Taliban rule

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Afghans gathered outside the passport office after the Taliban announced the re-issue of passports to their citizens.

Kabul:

Hundreds of Afghans gathered at the passport office in Kabul on Wednesday, a day after news of it reopened this week to issue documents, while Taliban security personnel had to repel some of the crowd in efforts to maintain order.

Taliban officials have said the service will resume Saturday after being suspended since their takeover and the fall of the previous government in August, leaving many of those desperate to flee the country stranded.

“I have come to get the passport, but as you can see here, there are a lot of problems, the system is not working,” Mahir Rasuli, an applicant, told Reuters outside the office.

“There is no officer here to answer our questions to tell us when to come. People are confused.”

A spokesman for Taliban officials who run the passport department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Poverty and hunger have increased since the Islamic movement came to power in Afghanistan, which is already suffering from drought and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations says half a million people have been displaced in recent months, and that number will only increase as health services, schools and the economy collapse.

Hundreds of people came to the passport office despite advice that delivery of passports would only start on Saturdays, and initially only to those who had already applied.

Reminiscent of the chaos at Kabul airport in the final stages of the evacuation following the withdrawal of US troops, a crowd pressed against a large concrete barrier, trying to hand over documents to an officer standing above it.

The officer urged them to return home and come back on Saturday.

Ahmed Shakib Siddiqui, one of the crowd, said, “I have come here to get a passport, but unfortunately I could not do so.” “I don’t know what we should do in this situation.”

Siddiqui and Rasuli said the bleak economic outlook prompted their desire to leave.

Rasuli said, “There is no job and the financial condition is not very good, so I want a good future for my children.”

Siddiqui said he wanted a passport to travel to neighboring Pakistan to treat a member of his family, but added that he had no option but to go.

“We have to leave Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s a bad situation in Afghanistan – no job, no work. It’s not a good situation for us to live in.”

The Taliban have said they welcome international aid, although many donors withheld their aid after taking power.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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