Australia

Afghan man beaten by the Taliban trying to escape Kabul desperate for Australia’s help

An Afghan man who worked with Australia during its mission in Afghanistan has recounted being beaten by the Taliban while trying to make an ultimately unsuccessful escape from Kabul.

Majid*, who SBS News has decided not to further identify, has a valid Australian visa but failed to secure a place on a government rescue flight before their termination last week, despite repeated attempts.

Images provided to SBS News show lacerations and wounds the man says were inflicted upon him by the Taliban outside Hamid Karzai International Airport.

The airport, which has been thronged by people desperate to escape the Taliban since their takeover of Afghanistan, was the target of a suicide attack last Thursday that killed dozens of people, including Afghan locals and US soldiers.

Majid, a father of three, told SBS News he tried to enter the airport for an evacuation on three different days, suffering lashes and exposure to tear gas.

“I thought this was the last minutes of my life – I will be killed,” he recounted, adding that the failure to secure his family an evacuation has left him feeling hopeless.

Majid said he and his family left the airport precinct shortly before Thursday’s suicide attack.

“We were on the way home [and] we heard a very loud explosion in the same place we were waiting,” he said.  

He later heard that Australia had ceased its evacuation mission from Kabul.  

He says he’s now in hiding with his family and fearing for their safety. 

“I’m really worried and afraid what will happen to us – I hope [the] Australian government [can] help us to get out of Afghanistan sooner,” he said.

“There is no way out for us.”  

‘Please help us’

Another man – an Australian permanent resident – shared his own distressing story last week with SBS Pashto about an attempt to flee Afghanistan.

He said he had survived a gunshot wound to the head outside the airport days before being evacuated from Kabul.  

Now in Melbourne, he said he remained concerned for the safety of those left behind in the country.

“Please Australian government, please help us,” he said. 

More than 4,000 Australians and Afghans with visas were evacuated from Kabul as part of Australia’s rescue efforts. 

It is not known how many citizens and visa holders remain in Afghanistan but options for their evacuations are now limited.

People are being urged to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Adelaide’s Afghan community on Sunday held a rally urging the Australian government to explore alternative options for their rescue.  

One option suggested is to have Australians and visa holders cross into countries where commercial flights to Australia are still operating.

Samandarkhan Sadiqi, president of the Afghan Association of South Australia, said the government had a duty to provide protection to those in need.

“If there are no available ways direct from Afghanistan different ways should be seeked to evacuate them from that danger,” he told SBS News. 

The federal government says it will welcome at least 3,000 Afghan nationals within its existing humanitarian intake this financial year.

It has described the figure as a floor, not a ceiling.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Saturday said the government would continue to work to bring eligible people to Australia.

“We are shifting heaven and earth to make sure that we are doing everything we possibly can,” she said.

With Peta Doherty.

*Name has been changed

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