Estonian partners in Afghanistan fear reprisals from Taliban

Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tallinn. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Non-profit organizations in Afghanistan that have worked with Estonia, and other western countries, have said the Taliban may retaliate against them. Estonia will hold discussions about how it can help people this week.

Riina Kuusik-Rajasaar, head of development cooperation at Estonian humanitarian aid NGO MTÜ Mondo and coordinator of projects in Afghanistan, said after their take over of the country, the Taliban may retaliate against organizations and individuals who have provided health care and education to women.

MTÜ Mondo's work in Afghanistan has largely been involved with girls' education and women's health projects.

She told ERR it has long been discussed how the Taliban's actions and the US peace talks with the Taliban, which began last year, may affect humanitarian aid organizations.

The Taliban said girls will be able to go to school but Kuusik-Rajasaare's partners on the ground in Afghanistan believe this will not be the case.

"Every local woman I have spoken to now reports that they have clear indications that everyone is returning to a very conservative social system based on Shariah Law," she said.

Many of MTÜ Mondo's partners have fled to Kabul and have already received threats. 

Kuusik-Rajasaar said on Sunday that she was trying to be available to all the organization's partners 24 hours a day. The possibility of evacuating people to Europe to apply for asylum is also being discussed and the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be involved in discussions.

So far, six people have requested help from Estonia and some of them have asked for help with their families. These people include the management and school director of a girls' school set up with the help of MTÜ Mondo and Estonia, a coordinator of midwife training who has just graduated, their daughters, and the person who coordinated the training.

Liimets: Estonia help people who helped Estonia, the EU and NATO

Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) told ERR on Sunday that requests for assistance will be discussed this week and that Estonia must show solidarity and assist the European Union and NATO. 

She said an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers is being convened and that Estonia will raise the topic at the United Nations Security Council.

Liimets said people who implemented Estonian-, EU- or NATO-supported projects in Afghanistan should receive help.

"The question today is how to organize it," she said. Adding: "Of course, when we talk about accepting people to Estonia, then, of course, following all domestic procedures." 

Asked if the West has failed in Afghanistan, the minister said Estonia's task is to help ensure that the last 20 years of work continues. Estonia was part of NATO's allied mission to Afghanistan for 18 years.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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