Hundreds of Afghan refugees and migrants held a protest in the UAE where they have been living in limbo since they were evacuated from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in August 2021.
On Monday and Tuesday demonstrators carried banners and called for reprieve inside an Abu Dhabi facility, according to Reuters, citing two Afghans who reside there, where thousands are said to be awaiting resettlement to the US and other countries.
“Nearly one year, we have been here in detention and the camp is like a modern prison. No one is allowed to go out, they don’t know when [we] will be settled permanently to any country,” one of them told Reuters.
Images and footage shared by the news agency showed protestors, among them children, carrying banners and chanting slogans for “freedom” and “justice”, some were wearing symbolic blindfolds and bound their wrists in a bid to highlight their living conditions, which have been described as “prison-like” at the facility known as Emirates Humanitarian City.
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However an Emirati official told Reuters that the authorities acknowledged the frustration of the Afghan evacuees and said that the country was working with the US Embassy to facilitate their resettlement. The UAE has also said that it was committed to ensuring the Afghan evacuees can live in safety, security and dignity.
Similar protests erupted at the same facility in February this year, after the resettlement process appeared to have stalled, prompting a visit by a US State Department official who said all Afghans there would be resettled by August.
So far over 10,000 Afghans have been relocated from the facility to the US, while Washington has been cooperating with the UAE and other countries to find “resettlement options” for those who fail the US screening process or are ineligible for US relocation.