In the days before the Taliban regained Afghanistan, even before former President Ashraf Ghani left on August 15, Afghans were starting to leave the country. When it became clear that the group had regained power over most of the country, the wave of people fleeing increased hour by hour.
Those who could leave the country with the support of international institutions and Western governments did. Those who did not have such vital connections turned to human traffickers — opening themselves up to a range of life-threatening risks and dangers.
One of them was 24-year-old Eid Mohammad Mehri, killed in a road accident while trying to leave Afghanistan illegally.
IranWire spoke to his family.
They said Eid Mohammad Mehrihim, his cousins and several of his friends decided they had to leave after being harassed by members of the Taliban. As the atmosphere became increasingly tense, they felt they had no choice but to leave.
Abdollah Hamdard, Eid Mohammad's brother, lives in Iran and confirmed his brother's death. He told IranWire that one day his brother was returning from playing futsal with his friends when they were confronted and harassed by members of the Taliban, who insulted them for the way they dressed and the way they looked, objecting to the way they wore their hair.
”My brother loved futsal and his teammates and coaches said he was talented at the sport. They played even after the Taliban came to power. But the Taliban's treatment of my brother made him angry; he said he could not stand the situation and wanted to leave Afghanistan."
But this decision cost Eid Muhammad his life. He, three cousins and some friends travelled to Nimrouz Province in western Afghanistan, and after spending a day there, paid a trafficker to take them to Tehran.
"The next night, my brother called me and said that they had crossed the border. He had left Nimrouz and reached Zabol. At six or seven o'clock in the evening they left again. But the driver had taken drugs and had no control over their Peugeot people carrier, and so half an hour after they left, they collided with a large vehicle. There were 14 people in the car; they were taken to Khatam al-Anbia Hospital in Zabol but died.”
An Iranian Baluchi man had Eid Mohammad's mobile phone after the accident. He tried repeatedly to call Abdollah Hamdard to let him know what had happened. Finally, he reached him and informed him about the accident.
Abdollah Hamdard eventually found out where his brother was thanks to a friend who lived near Zabol. But hospital officials would not allow the friend in and said he would need to obtain legal permission in order to do so.
"The person we sent had good contacts, but still they did not allow him in," Abdollah told IranWire. "He was told they had bodies stored there from six months or even a year ago that no one had claimed. Finally, we were allowed to apply for the body to be transferred to Afghanistan. We had to pay a lot of money. We paid the judge and the hospital. The total was about 20 million tomans [$740] to bring my brother's body back to Afghanistan. It took two weeks."
"My brother never wanted to leave Afghanistan," he said, clenching his throat. "We were both brothers and best friends. When I wanted to go to Iran, he always tried to stop me from going. But when he himself became disillusioned with Afghanistan, he set out on a path on which he lost his life.”
The story of Eid Muhammad is the story of so many young people, men and women who rely on traffickers to help them change their lives. Even if they get further along the road than Eid Muhammad did, huge dangers confront them everywhere they go. Many don’t survive.
Previously, IranWire has spoken with several citizens who had been forced to return to Afghanistan and were sent back from the Iranian border. We also talked to people who gave accounts of people who were killed at the border.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August, hundreds have died: in the airport shootings, falling from planes and at the border — all trying to flee. It is clear that whatever lies in Afghanistan’s future, hundreds of lives, if not thousands, will be lost.