DUBAI: Hundreds of Afghans have launched a rare protest at a United Arab Emirates facility where they have been housed since fleeing their homeland last year, holding banners pleading for freedom and demanding to be sent to the United States to be resettled.

Thousands of Afghans were last year evacuated to the Gulf Arab state on behalf of the United States and other Western countries amid the chaotic US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan and return to power of the Taliban.

The UAE, a close US partner, agreed to provide Afghans with temporary housing as they waited to be resettled elsewhere.

Six months later, however, many are still in the UAE, living in tightly controlled facilities.

Protests started on Wednesday and continued on Thursday, two demonstrators told Reuters on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution from authorities for speaking out.

Videos sent to Reuters showed men, women and children calling on Washington to welcome them to their second home. Similar videos and images were widely shared on social media.

The two protesters, one of whom shared the videos, said the rally was triggered by the persistent lack of information on when the Afghans would be resettled.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2022

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