A former senior employee of the Canadian embassy in Afghanistan who says he fled the country after he was attacked by Taliban insurgents is now pleading with Canada’s federal government to help extricate his wife and three young children, who are stuck in Kabul.
The former employee, an Afghan citizen, said he was driving home from a wedding ceremony outside of Kabul when Taliban militants began shooting at his vehicle. The Globe and Mail is not identifying him because he fears for his family’s safety. He said he was attacked because he worked for the Canadian embassy.
The former employee is one of several former members of the staff at the Canadian embassy who have told The Globe that they or their families are not safe in Afghanistan. Canada withdrew its armed forces from the country seven years ago. With the U.S. military now pulling its remaining troops, Taliban insurgents have been expanding the territory they control, leaving Afghans who worked for foreign governments during the past two decades of conflict fearful of reprisals.
Traffic was heavy in Kabul on the night of the attack in Dec., 2019, and the city’s electricity was out, blackening the streets. The former employee described a chaotic scene. Militants forced him and his cousin out of their car and struck his cousin on the head with a pistol. The employee said relatives caught up to the car and intervened, and the gunmen fled.
That night, he and his family decided he would go to the United States, temporarily, until the security situation cooled off. He had a tourist visa, which allowed him to travel. But the situation didn’t improve, so he resigned from the embassy, telling his colleagues that serious threats had forced him to leave.
Since the attack, he has been separated from his wife and children. Being away from them keeps him up at night, he said. He hopes to reunite with them in Canada, because he believes gaining them admission to the United States could take years.
That night in 2019 was, the former employee said, the first time he was directly targeted, but it was not the first time he’d had an intimation of danger. Before the attack, relatives living in a village asked him not to visit, because the Taliban had made it known that it was targeting him.
The former employee said he has applied for asylum in the United States and is working there while his case makes its way through the immigration system.
He said it is too dangerous for his eldest daughter to go to school in Afghanistan and that he has not met his youngest daughter, who was born after he left. They Facetime, he said, and the whole time she tries to kiss him through the phone.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told The Globe in an interview recently that Ottawa is finalizing a plan that will expedite entry to Canada for Afghans who currently work for the Canadian government in Afghanistan, along with their families.
Asked whether the government would accept former employees of the Canadian embassy in Kabul, Mr. Mendicino said his inclination is to be as inclusive as possible.
Last week, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to set a date for when Ottawa will get Afghan interpreters and staff out of Afghanistan. NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan has called on Mr. Mendicino to put in place a special immigration measure to provide immediate refuge to those who aided the Canadian government and their families.
Rather than wait for the federal government to act, a group of Canadian veterans have recently used their personal savings to move Afghan interpreters and other locally employed workers to safer parts of Afghanistan. Not Left Behind, an organization created to press Canada to safeguard the lives of its Afghan employees and their families, said that former members of the military have funded safe travel for more than 20 families since Friday.
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