Afghan envoys marooned abroad after Taliban's sudden return

The Taliban's abrupt return to power has left hundreds of Afghan diplomats overseas in limbo: Running out of money to keep missions operating, fearful for families back home and desperate to secure refuge abroad.The militant movement, which swiftly ousted Afghanistan's Western-backed government on Aug 15, said on Tuesday (Sep 14) that it had sent messages to all of its embassies telling diplomats to continue their work. But eight embassy staff who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, in countries including Canada, Germany and Japan, described dysfunction and despair at their missions. "My colleagues here and in many countries are pleading with host nations to accept them," said an Afghan diplomat in Berlin, who said he feared what might happen to his wife and four daughters who remain in Kabul if he allowed his name to be used. "I am literally begging. Diplomats are willing to become refugees," he said, adding he would have to sell everything, including a large house in Kabul, and "start all over again". Afghanistan's missions overseas face a period of "prolonged limbo" as countries decide whether to recognise the Taliban, said Afzal Ashraf, an international relations expert and visiting fellow at Britain's University of Nottingham. "What can those embassies do? They don't represent a government. They don't have a policy to implement," he said, adding that embassy staff would likely be granted political asylum due to safety concerns if they returned to Afghanistan. The Taliban, who enforced a strict interpretation of Islamic law with punishments like amputations and stonings during their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, have sought to show a more conciliatory face since coming back to power. Spokespeople have reassured Afghans that they are not out for revenge and will respect people's rights, including women's. But reports of house-to-house searches and reprisals against former officials and ethnic minorities have made people wary. The Taliban have vowed to investigate any abuses. A group of envoys from the deposed government issued a first-of-its-kind joint statement, reported by Reuters on Wednesday ahead of its public release, calling on world leaders to deny the Taliban formal recognition.

Afghan envoys marooned abroad after Taliban's sudden return

The Taliban's abrupt return to power has left hundreds of Afghan diplomats overseas in limbo: Running out of money to keep missions operating, fearful for families back home and desperate to secure refuge abroad.

The militant movement, which swiftly ousted Afghanistan's Western-backed government on Aug 15, said on Tuesday (Sep 14) that it had sent messages to all of its embassies telling diplomats to continue their work.

But eight embassy staff who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, in countries including Canada, Germany and Japan, described dysfunction and despair at their missions.

"My colleagues here and in many countries are pleading with host nations to accept them," said an Afghan diplomat in Berlin, who said he feared what might happen to his wife and four daughters who remain in Kabul if he allowed his name to be used.

"I am literally begging. Diplomats are willing to become refugees," he said, adding he would have to sell everything, including a large house in Kabul, and "start all over again".

Afghanistan's missions overseas face a period of "prolonged limbo" as countries decide whether to recognise the Taliban, said Afzal Ashraf, an international relations expert and visiting fellow at Britain's University of Nottingham.

"What can those embassies do? They don't represent a government. They don't have a policy to implement," he said, adding that embassy staff would likely be granted political asylum due to safety concerns if they returned to Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who enforced a strict interpretation of Islamic law with punishments like amputations and stonings during their previous rule from 1996 to 2001, have sought to show a more conciliatory face since coming back to power.

Spokespeople have reassured Afghans that they are not out for revenge and will respect people's rights, including women's.

But reports of house-to-house searches and reprisals against former officials and ethnic minorities have made people wary. The Taliban have vowed to investigate any abuses.

A group of envoys from the deposed government issued a first-of-its-kind joint statement, reported by Reuters on Wednesday ahead of its public release, calling on world leaders to deny the Taliban formal recognition.