Only you can decide what is the best option for you.You must think very clearly and critically about your options, resources and intent. If no one knows that you or your family members ever worked with foreign embassies or military then you may be relatively safe to stay in Afghanistan. Maybe you held a position that was highly visible and as such you receive daily death threats and are just waiting for the moment you hear the knock on the door.
Depending on your specific case, you must decide if you should escape and evade immediately, or stay put where you have a social network, support and familiar terrain. If you stay put, it means you stay put and maintain self-reliance. You protect yourself and lay low. Option two: You leave your home and go to a safer area or leave your country all together. First, let us look at your evacuation options.
It is not wise to depart Afghanistan unless you know what your destination is and that you can almost for sure be permitted to enter. Do not assume that you can enter the USA or EU because other people did during the evacuation flights. Things are different now. You need to carefully consider your options. You need to do all the paperwork beforehand. Otherwise, you risk becoming stuck in a 3rd country somewhere or an immigration camp. Immigration camps are not fun at all.
Organizations Helping with Evacuation
List of additional organizations by Kabul NEO / Afghan War News: https://afghanwarnews.info/taliban-victory-2021/evac-assistance-private-sector.htm
Here are links for submission for evacuation. Most are for organizations that work outside of – but with – the government. Please fill all of them out immediately.
Allied Airlift 2021: https://alliedairlift21.force.com/register/s/
Project Dynamo II: https://airtable.com/shrnoVZEupAXILFka
Human Rights First: https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/afghan-evacuation
Team America: https://www.teamamericarelief.org/refugee-data-form
New Jersey Congressional Form for SIV: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc1_FsL8YdmzbLKFLCdwKRatP3OQJ1F74hJ0_YfLKlnk677dw/viewform
20SEP UPDATE: “Most flights departing now require a valid passport and visa. Some of the charters are able to get people on if the Head-of-Household has a passport, but only immediate family without are allowed.”
19SEP UPDATE: From associated Press “Also on Saturday, an international flight by Pakistan’s national carrier left Kabul’s airport with 322 passengers on board and a flight by Iran’s Mahan Air departed with 187 passengers on board, an airport official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said the two international flights departed in the morning. The identities and nationalities of those on board were not immediately known. The flights were the latest to depart Kabul in the past week as technical teams from Qatar and Turkey have worked to get the airport up to standard for international commercial aircraft. A Qatar Airways flight on Friday took more Americans out of Afghanistan, the third such airlift by the Mideast carrier since the Taliban takeover and the frantic U.S. troop pullout from the country last month. The State Department said Saturday that there were 28 U.S. citizens and seven permanent residents on board the flight from Kabul, and thanked Qatari authorities for their help. Also Friday night, a flight by Kam Air, Afghanistan’s largest private carrier, took off from Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, with 350 passengers on board, according to two employees there. The flight was headed to Dubai, said the two, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. They said the plane carried foreigners but it was not clear if and how many Americans were on board.
18SEP UPDATE: Source reports “Kam Air Resumed three flights a week from Kabul-Islamabad-Kabul, Sunday, Wednesday & Friday. First Flight on 19th September 2021For those passengers who already have Pakistan Visa. COVID-19 test is mandatory for passengers. For booking tickets please follow up with travel agencies in Kabul. You can find the travel agencies contact number in Kabul through FB. Update: the one way ticket price based on the today ground inquiry is around 900$ Before fall of Kabul the round trip ticket price from Kabul – Islamabad – Kabul by Kamair was 350$.”
12SEP UPDATE: Reportedly Pakistan Airlines is flying into Kabul as of Monday, September 13th. There are some rumors that this was denied by Pakistan Airlines. (Source: https://m.economictimes.com/news/international/world-news/pakistans-pia-to-restart-commercial-flights-to-kabul-from-monday/amp_articleshow/86114298.cms)
08SEP UPDATE: The Afghan Civil Aviation authority made an announcement to all the aviation people in Kabul today. The airport Navigation system is working and operating. They will likely begin allowing international flights as of tomorrow. They are not going to allow international flights from other airports. Only Kabul. So that means the KAM air charters that are on hold in Marzar-I-Sharif will have to reposition in Kabul before they will be allowed to fly out of country. Qatar will be fully operating the airport, including ticketing, passport control, and all management of the airport. All international passengers will be required to hold a passport.
Commercial – The Taliban have promised to reopen the airports and permit Afghans with the proper paperwork to depart. There will likely be a waiting period until HKIA is open and functioning again. This is a very possible option – to wait until this happens then try to fly to Pakistan, India or another country, before moving onward to your destination country. Domestic flights have reportedly restarted. (Source: https://sports.yahoo.com/kabul-airport-reopens-receive-aid-101636460.html
Charter / Military / Diplomatic – The Taliban have stated they will continue to permit Afghans with proper papers to depart Afghanistan. Therefor, there is a *small* possibility that US/EU will be able to fly in Chartered or military flights later to take approved or applicants of SIV/P1/P2. 17SEP UPDATE: Two to three evacuation flights have reportedly left Afghanistan since August 31st. Please ensure you have registered with every verified organization manifest list for evacuation.
India – Afghans can apply online for fast-track visas for emergency rehabilitation for an initial period of 6 months. Questions can be directed to the Ministry of External Affairs via email at MEAHelpDeskIndia@gmail.com or phone at 919717785379 (DOI: 19AUG) (Unverified Source: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fOLFOxD6DWs2JrBb1hqf2EXMbC5imN1Bm5LOXnSkfks/edit#) (https://www.india.com/news/india/explained-what-is-e-emergency-x-misc-visa-how-can-afghans-apply-for-it-4894210/) (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html)
Pakistan: “PIA was running charters out of Kabul but were suspended before withdrawal was completed; some UN flights from Mazar to Islamabad, looking to explore if that is a potential option as well. When people fly in they want confirmed onward travel and immediate flights out.” (DOI: 02SEP) (Source: Congressional NSA Advisor via AA21 – V2 Kabul Departures Discord Group)
Ground Border Evacuation
Here is a link with border crossings noted on a map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=1VSlhQfrpsPKsp3ATvI4Hs_4OiJhi1JiC&ll=34.84955736940354%2C65.96338993496424&z=6
13SEP UPDATE: “If families can afford the Pakistani visa it’s approximately $2100 for family of 5/6 and may be worth it if they have the savings, but not guaranteed. Previously some were able to purchase passes for the checkpoints for $350 per family member but the land option is closed from what I’ve heard.” -Anonymous
08AUG UPDATE: Please please please do not ask Afghan colleagues to go a Pakistan border crossing without a visa or some sort of documentation they can leave Pakistan once they get there. If they have any documentation saying they can leave Pakistan they will be allowed to enter and helped to leave. However if they do not have a Pakistani visa, or a Pakistani CNIC they will most likely be deported. The government is not willing to take any Afghan refugees for political reasons. They are also more than happy to deport them for again political reasons. The refugees are being used as a political tool in Pakistan’s games in Afghanistan.The situation at the border changes regularly, hours when they are open are inconsistent, how long they are open for and more importantly Afghan colleagues will end up paying various bribes and then may get deported anyway. That is money lost and the added trauma of being deported and sent back to the Taliban who may punish them.Yes there maybe a lucky few who get through without any hassles but they would be very few.If you do want to get the across the border illegally then your best bet is having a Balochi/Pashtun family host them like the Pashtun’s did in the 1980s. That would literally be the easiest and safest way for them to stay in Pakistan and leave. Most Balochis do not have Pakistani ID cards (the CNIC) so it easier for them to say they are Pakistanis. Most Pashtun’s in the FATA region do not have CNICs either. Most Balcohis don’t speak Urdu, so easier for them not avoid Pakistani authorities. Most Pashtun’s do speak Urdu.Pakistan is not safe haven for Afghans. The government is more like Iran’s when it comes to Afghan refugees.
29AUG UPDATE: Pakistan via Torkham Gate is reportedly closed unless you have a visa for an onward country AND a “Special Letter” from the interior ministry to get you to Islamabad.
Pakistan via Spin-Boldak-Station is a decent option – if you have the proper paperwork and/or a lot of money. However, travel to Pakistan is very fluid. Things may drastically change daily. For people trying to reach Quetta, the prices and additionally bribery are fluid and must be paid. There are “facilitators” who can facilitate your border crossing – who have been used by verified people. If you would like their phone numbers please contact email@example.com. If you do ask for them, you will be vetted extensively before being provided their information.
Pakistan is very vague about how they are handling refugees at the moment. There are reports that visas are not issued. There are reports that Pakistan is handing refugees back to the Taliban. There are reports that Pakistani visas are at least $500. Some people report much more.
Expect to be searched and questioned extensively by ISI if you go to Pakistan. Prepare for this by the following:
- Prepare your cover story.
- Do not bring documents connecting you to Foreign Countries like USA, etc Upload all of your documents digitally to somewhere you can get later.
- Do not bring a computer.
- Completely sanitize your mobile phone – hide or delete Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, photos, etc.
- Bring your Tazkira. (If this is missing, there is a work around.)
- Give your phone to your wife if possible.
- Dress locally. (Women in Burka, Men in Kandahar hat & vest)
- No Luxury items.
- Bring enough cash (store in multiple places on yourself) ATM in Quetta is not working.
- Bring as little luggage as possible.
- Bring enough water – it is hot.Crossing the border can take hours.
- Crossing the border is easier for Pashtun – less so for Hazaras.
- It is difficult to get a Pakistani SIM card.
- Once in Pakistan, it will be much easier to move around and if you have a valid passport and paper to other countries – or some form of documents that will permit you to fly.
29AUG UPDATE: According to a good source – some Afghans were allowed to cross into Tajikistan at the Ishskihsim border crossing on 25 August, with special permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and SITOD (Republican Committee for COVID-19). Additional Afghans crossed the morning of 26 August, These were done with a Tajikistani organization providing proof of a relationship with the Afghan. Of the 33 Afghans who crossed, they had big political power. However, the border crossing is now closed until after Independence Day (09 September) and there are additional security concerns with the SCO Summit taking place from 16 to 17 September. Many leaders of many countries will be present for this, including Russia’s President Putin, so they are taking security very carefully. Additionally, two Afghans were confirmed to be rejected from crossing because they had no permission. This includes the Pamir border crossing.Tajikistan visa will reportedly be issued with a valid passport for $1,500 (Source: Travel Company and Local Afghan).
02SEP UPDATE: “Border is closed, not letting anyone over but US Ambassador is approaching foreign ministry to try to allow at least AMCITs and SIVs to cross – discussions ongoing. (Source: Congressional NSA Advisor)
13SEP UPDATE: From a trusted Source: There is a possible way to get visas to Uzbekistan for $2400 per person. Length of visa is unknown at this time. The problem is, there is no UNHCR office in Uzbekistan. There’s one in Tajikistan, but the US Embassy in Tajikistan will not process SIVs.”
03SEP UPDATE: “Got confirmation from multiple sources today: Uzbekistan is not taking any pending SIV applicants at all, only COM approval or AMCIT with passports.”
02SEP UPDATE: “Borders are all closed but flights are not; some flights from Mazar to Tashkent, may be possible from Mazar to Termez too. Uzbeks asking for manifests of people flying in; however, need a demonstration of immediate onward flight so people aren’t lingering very long in advance of arrival. The Uzbeks want people out within 24 hours. Land border at Friendship Bridge officially closed but U.S. chargé is engaging to work out some limited crossing at the border; first looking for AMCITs and LPRs, looking at ways if this is successful to get more at-risk folks across. (Source: Congressional NSA Advisor via V2 Kabul Departures Discord Group).
30AUG UPDATE: Visa issued with a valid passport will cost at least $700. One person reported “An Afghan friend of mine was able to get an Uzbek visa in Kabul via a travel agency. It takes roughly 10 days to process, he was told (which also gives him time to grow a little bit more of a beard, a useful travel companion). I’ve asked which travel agency and how much it costs, he’s letting me know tomorrow first thing. I will share this info as soon as I have it. (Source:XXX).
The land border between China and Afghanistan is rough terrain. It is not easy to cross through. Additionally, the Chinese are not supportive of Islamic people. The Chinese oppression of the Islamic Uighurs is notorious. You can read more about it here: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/new-details-torture-cover-ups-china-s-internment-camps-revealed-n1270014
Also, they will likely detain you and interrogate you over your relations with US/Europe/Westerners. I assure you, their interrogation tactics are very effective. “Likely a pretty high chance of China deporting any afghans back into the hands of the Taliban too, since they’re trying to curry diplomatic favor with Taliban.”