Monday. 04.12.2023

Officials in Albania and Kosovo say they are preparing to take in Afghan refugees who are at risk of human rights abuses following the Taliban's return to power in their country.

The Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani said on Facebook on Sunday that they were responding to a request from Washington to temporarily take in refugees who would later be brought to the US.

Following reports of Taliban attacks on civilians, targeted killings, and other serious human rights abuses during the group's advances, world leaders and activists have been voicing their concerns for Afghan citizens.

Rama emphasized that helping those seeking protection is a tradition in his country. Among other things, Albania had taken in Jews persecuted by the Nazis in the 20th century. Albania has been a member of NATO since 2009.

"No one knows better than we [Kosovars] what it means to be expelled and to have to forcibly leave places where you grew up," Kosovo's Osmani wrote.

Kosovo, once part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared itself independent in 2008 after a bloody war against the central power in Belgrade and is recognised by 115 states, including most EU countries.

A wave of refugees

Iran, in anticipation of a wave of refugees following the Taliban's advances in Afghanistan, has meanwhile set up buffer zones at its border with the war-torn country to provide them protection.

"We had already anticipated a new wave of refugees from Afghanistan two months ago and therefore started setting up temporary buffer zones at the three border crossings even then," a spokesman for Iran's Interior Ministry told the state news agency IRNA on Sunday.

The temporary three buffer zones, in the north and south-east of the country, are meant to provide protection and security to refugees.

"As soon as the current situation has eased again, the refugees can then return to their home from there," said spokesman Hussein Ghassemi. He added that health ministry officials will also be present in the buffer zones due to Iran's current pandemic situation.

Pakistan sealed key border

For Iran, the wave of refugees from Afghanistan is not new: The country had allowed over 3 million Afghan refugees to enter after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Pakistan has, however, sealed a key border crossing with Afghanistan leaving thousands of travelers stranded on both sides of the border after the Taliban took control on other side of the frontier.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced the decision to close the Torkham terminal in north-western Pakistan without giving a time frame for the reopening of the border crossing.

He said that the decision was taken after the Afghan side of the border went under the control of the Taliban following their seizure of Jalalabad.

Albania and Kosovo to take in Afghans following request from US