Greece announced on Thursday it is offering permanent residency in the country to a group of 35 Afghans, including human rights workers and their families, following a short stay in neighboring North Macedonia.
North Macedonia’s government said the 35 had been transported Thursday to Greece, the latest European Union country to take in Afghan refugees from the Balkan republic. Ireland and France took in a total of 37 evacuees from North Macedonia over the last week.
Several hundred Afghans have been allowed to stay in North Macedonia until more permanent arrangements can be made. The evacuees include human rights group staff, translators, university students, and scholarship holders and their families, who are considered to be under threat from the new Taliban regime.
Greece has already agreed to host a group of female Afghan judges and former members of Parliament.
Afghan female judges hosted in Greece
Last week Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis welcomed six female Afghan judges and legislators who who fled Afghanistan after the Taliban took over in August.
The women, three of whom are former lawmakers and the rest judges, and their families, were offered temporary accommodation in Greece, and will all be resettled in various European countries with the assistance of Greek and international charitable organizations.
Shagufa Noorzai, a former lawmaker from the Helmand province of Afghanistan’s south, expressed her grief at the Taliban takeover at an event in Athens in October, stating:
“We struggled for 20 years, but this all, I think, went to zero. We lost. They killed our thoughts, our freedom of expression,” she said. “Our country has darkened.”
Future of women uncertain under the Taliban
The future of women in Afghanistan remains uncertain after the Taliban took over the country in August. Although the fundamentalist Islamic leaders claim that women will not be in danger and will have access to work, many fear that women, especially those who held positions of power, are at risk of violence and subjugation.
Euronews reports that on Thursday, the Taliban beat up several journalists to prevent media coverage of a women’s rights demonstration in Kabul. One foreign journalist was hit with a rifle butt by a Taliban fighter, who swore at and kicked the photographer in the back while another punched him.
At least two other journalists were hit as they scattered, pursued by Taliban fighters wielding fists and throwing kicks.
The women held signs saying, “We have no right to study and work,” and “Unemployment, poverty, hunger,” as they walked with their arms in the air.
Since the Taliban’s return to power, Afghans have held street protests across the country, sometimes with several hundred people and often with women at the forefront, which was unthinkable under the hardline Islamist group’s last regime in the 1990s.