Youth movement calls for rescue of Afghan climate activists
Afghan climate activists must be evacuated urgently from the conflict-torn country as they face the threat of persecution under the Taliban, but they are losing time, campaigners said on Friday.
A group of nearly 260 activists and their families, aged from one to 80 years, have been waiting to be rescued for over a week, said spokespeople for Fridays for Future, the youth climate movement started by Greta Thunberg.
"If there's anyone who can help in any way to evacuate the Fridays For Future activists from Afghanistan - please reach out urgently," Swedish teenager Thunberg tweeted on Thursday night.
The Afghan campaigners have been engaged in climate activism and social justice work in their country.
"Everybody is scared and feeling quite hopeless as the situation is rapidly deteriorating," said Sarah Greenfield Clark, co-founder of Climate 2025, a non-profit that supports emerging movements.
A massive airlift of foreign nationals and their families, as well as Afghans, has been underway over the past week following the Taliban's capture of Kabul.
Thousands of people have thronged Kabul airport seeking flights.
On Thursday, at least two explosions struck the crowded airport gates, killing at least 85 people including members of the US military and desperate civilians hoping to flee.
"We need help. Fridays for Future is a relatively new organisation. We need better links with established humanitarian NGOs and experienced contacts to help us put these names on evacuation lists," Greenfield Clark told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"These people's lives are in danger," she added by phone from London.
Fridays for Future (FFF) activists have been trying to get the names and details of Afghan campaigners and their families onto evacuation lists with officials coordinating flights and aid agencies.
But eight days after the first calls for help were made, there had been no response, said those working on the rescue.
"Countries around the world are now indicating a withdrawal of state forces from Afghanistan over the coming days, leaving many FFF activists in grave danger," Fridays for Future said in a statement, calling for a coordinated humanitarian effort as time runs out.
"Me and the other activists feel as though we are being abandoned, even by the organisations we have worked closely with over the years," an unnamed 24-year-old climate campaigner was quoted as saying in FFF's statement.
"We feel that no one can know what we are going through and that the rest of the world will just continue on as normal and we will be completely forgotten about after (August) 31st. No one has the will to help us," the Kabul-based activist added.