Afghan evacuees prefer life in Qatar to Taliban rule

Published March 5, 2022
Women and children gather in a playground at the Park View Villas, a compound where Afghan refugees have been living after arriving from Afghanistan.—AFP
Women and children gather in a playground at the Park View Villas, a compound where Afghan refugees have been living after arriving from Afghanistan.—AFP

DOHA: Surfing on Wi-Fi and enjoying free meals in comfortable town houses in Qatar, Afghans who fled their country have shrugged off the Taliban’s claims they are living in miserable conditions.

Despite an uncertain future, the Afghans of Doha’s Park View Villas insist there is no way they will go back to their homeland under the Islamists, no matter what the new rulers say.

Since August, more than 75,000 Afghans have passed through the Gulf emirate that brokered a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States and remains a key intermediary in the Taliban’s difficult links to the outside world.

One hundred Afghans are now at Park View, a compound built to house officials for this year’s football World Cup. Two hundred others were moved this week to a nearby US camp for processing to be relocated to the United States.

The villas opened following criticism of facilities at an emergency camp on a US military base after the tidal wave of evacuations started. The compound’s streets resemble a quiet US neighbourhood.

Its weekly party was buzzing after Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared on Sunday that the Taliban believed thousands of Afghans were “living in very bad conditions” in Qatar and Turkey.

The residents beg to differ.

“I can walk here. I feel safe,” Thamina Heerawie, 22, said during a break from volunteer work at the Park View nursery school, a rowdy focal point of compound life.

“The situation here is much better than being at home and suffering over your dark future in Afghanistan.” She said she would “definitely” go back to Afghanistan — if the Taliban were not ruling.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2022

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