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Taliban government resumes issuing Afghan passports in Kabul

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Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities said Saturday they will resume issuing passports in Kabul, giving hope to citizens who feel threatened living under the Islamists’ rule.

Thousands of Afghans have applied for new travel documents to escape a growing economic as well as a humanitarian crisis described by the United Nations as an “avalanche of hunger”.

Authorities will start issuing the documents from Sunday at Kabul’s passport office, Alam Gul Haqqani, the head of the passport department in the interior ministry, told reporters.

The Taliban stopped issuing passports shortly after their August 15 return to power, as tens of thousands of people scrambled to Kabul’s only airport in a bid to catch any international flight that could evacuate them.

In October, authorities reopened the passport office in Kabul only to suspend work days later as a flood of applications caused the biometric equipment to break down.

“All the technical issues have now been resolved,” Haqqani said, adding that initially travel documents will be given to those who had already applied before the office suspended work.

New applications will be accepted from January 10, he said.

Many Afghans who wanted to visit neighbouring Pakistan for medical treatment have also been blocked for months in the absence of valid passports.

“My mother has some health issues and we needed to go to Pakistan a long time ago, but we could not because the passport department was closed,” said Jamshid, who like many Afghans goes by only one name.

“We are happy now … we can get our passports and go to Pakistan,” he said as many gathered outside the passport office soon after Saturday’s announcement. Continue Reading

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