Six female MPs from Afghanistan arrived in Athens, Greece via Tbilisi, Georgia, accompanied by their family members, earlier on Wednesday, according to a Foreign Ministry announcement.
The six women were extricated from Afghanistan following the actions of the NGO Zaka Khan, which is based in New York, as part of a wider evacuation effort after the Taliban takeover of the country.
“Their arrival and stay in Greece, which are being coordinated closely by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Migration and Asylum, are part of the government’s commitment to host a symbolic number of Afghan citizens who are advocates of fundamental values, freedom of expression and gender equality,” according to a statement by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Afghanistan Parliament dissolved, Afghan MPs in Danger
Afghanistan’s two-chamber parliament was effectively dissolved after the Taliban took over the country while US forces was fleeing the capital, Kabul, last month. The future of the National Assembly — and whether or not women will be allowed to hold any positions of authority at all — remains uncertain.
The new Taliban regime, which looks remarkably like the one that ruled over the country until it was toppled by the US-led invasion, has closed the government ministry dedicated to women’s affairs.
It is preventing some female students from returning to schools and universities. Female workers in an array of professions have also been told to stay home until further notice. Videos show Taliban enforcers flogging women on the streets, in broad daylight, for unknown transgressions.
Afghan MPs came with NGO assistance
Greece is hosting a “symbolic” number of Afghans who are “defenders of fundamental values, freedom of expression and gender equality,” the Foreign Ministry states. The Afghan MPs identities have not been revealed.
The Ministry had initially announced that seven lawmakers were being hosted in Greece but later corrected the number to six. Greece is currently home to 40,000 long-term Afghan refugees and asylum seekers, making it the largest migrant population in the country, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Afghan MPs on their way to the US
The Afghan MPs and their family members will be hosted in Greece for a short time until the procedures for their transfer and settlement in the US are completed, according to the Ministry. Greece took part in US-led evacuation efforts in August to remove a number of people from Afghanistan following the Taliban return to power after two decades.
The Greek government subsequently took a tough line on immigration, saying that it is determined to prevent a large number of Afghans from reaching the European Union member state despite the unfolding crisis.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said over the weekend that new extensions of a border wall on the frontier with Turkey would be constructed if needed.