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‘Abandoned’ by Turkey, Afghan airport staff protest in Kabul

KABUL: Afghan nationals previously employed by Turkish authorities in Kabul as part of NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) deployment hold banners and placards during a demonstration demanding settlement of their pending wages. —AFP

KABUL: Around 30 Afghans previously employed by Turkey as part of NATO’s deployment in Kabul staged a protest yesterday, accusing Ankara of abandoning them in the wake of the Taleban’s return to power.

Many had worked as interpreters or technical staff at Kabul’s military airport before the Taleban seized the capital on August 15. A few weeks before then, the US military took over the airport until the last of its troops left on August 31 following the chaotic evacuation of around 120,000 Afghans-most associated with the 20-year-long foreign military presence.

“We want justice,” the group chanted in front of the Turkish embassy in Kabul, saying they had not been paid since the evacuation despite holding contracts valid until December 31.

Although the Taleban have banned public protests, they allowed Wednesday’s gathering to take place unhindered. “We have been abandoned,” lamented protester Assadullah Rahmani, who said he worked as an interpreter for Turkey for nearly two decades.

“We are facing the most difficult days of our lives,” added Mahmoud Hamraz, another interpreter. “Nobody comes from the embassy to listen to us, they do not even talk to us. It is a real disappointment.”

The Turkish embassy declined to comment. Thousands of Afghans are still desperately trying to leave the country, claiming their links to the former US-backed government or Western forces and other foreign organisations make them a target for the Taleban.

The Taleban insist there have been no reprisals against anyone associated with the old regime, and have called on Afghans to stay and help rebuild the country. Afghanistan is in the grip of a crippling economic crisis with the United Nations warning it is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe. — AFP

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