Protest by Afghan collaborators on August 21 in Tehran

(To Lieta Zanatta)

"Almost two years! We have lost all our possessions. How long do we have to wait? We, colleagues from the international forces, from NATO and from Italy, ask you to issue our visas as soon as possible. We have been waiting for an Italian visa in the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than eighteen months".

These are some of the sentences written on the placards and banners, in Italian and Persian, carried by about fifty Afghans who declare themselves collaborators of the Italian contingent in Herat, during a peaceful demonstration held in the Iranian park of Valayat, not far from the embassy of Italy in Tehran, last Monday 21 August.

The Afghans with their wives and children have tried to draw attention to the unsustainable situation they are experiencing, some for over a year, some almost two, since those dramatic days in August 2021 which saw the hasty and chaotic evacuation of the forces Born from Afghanistan.

Despite the efforts of the allied contingents to rescue as many collaborators as possible - Italy has transported 4.890 of them to Italy - several remained on the ground despite being on the list to be evacuated. The chaos and the improbable gathering that had arisen in the international airport of Kabul did not allow them to reach the gates from where the flights of salvation departed, which ceased after the suicide bombing of August 27 which caused the killing nearly two hundred people in the crowd.

About two thousand have moved to Iran, many above all on the advice of the personnel of the Ministry of Defence, who called them personally on the phone. From Tehran, Italy continued to evacuate them, albeit piecemeal. But many are still there.

As stated by Minister Lorenzo Guerini at the end of 2021, "Last summer's evacuation of Afghan citizens from Kabul was a very complex operation, but the unceasing and silent commitment of the Italian Armed Forces has also continued in recent months".

But after two years, many collaborators are waiting to do the interview with the Italian embassy, ​​the first step for the coveted flight to Rome. The squad that demonstrated last Monday is only a small representation trying to bring attention to their situation.

Many families have sold all their possessions and have spent all they had to keep themselves waiting in Tehran, crammed into rented rooms in the city or in small hotels, without being able to have permits to work, without being able to send their children to school because they residents, in possession of only the tourist visa that must be renewed every time with heavy costs.

“We are deprived of education. We ask you to determine our fate. How long will we be without destiny?” recite the writings carried by some kids including a little girl who will be three years old, with a serious and contrite expression, aware that she is doing something important. It's still, “We ask for your attention for the future of our children. We want our human rights” support other placards carried by some women.

Almost two years of unnerving waiting, without any response from Rome, despite the Afghans continuing to send their documents to the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs.

"The Iranian police did not allow the gathering in front of the embassy, ​​we had to gather in this park to protest" explains M. Rahimi, who is the spokesperson for everyone. “We asked to speak to someone from the embassy, ​​to give us an answer to this situation, but they only told us that if our files were processed in Rome, they would have called us, otherwise they couldn't, also because there are so many of us. I'm really tired, I can't take it anymore, I no longer have my job, I no longer have the means. In these two years I have tried to draw attention to my case, in any way, to no avail. Can someone from Italy give us an answer?”.