With each passing day, the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan worsens, and each day, Winnipegger Omaid Amiri fears for his wife’s safety.
“My wife, unfortunately, is still there,” 33-year-old Amiri said, adding he’s concerned for the safety of all women in the country, who may face more dangerous and restricted livelihoods under the Taliban.
“That’s just one of the worst stress right now,” he said. “I try to focus on work, but I cannot do it.”
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Amiri emigrated to Canada in 2006 and supports family back home, including his wife, Samia, working two jobs. He’s spent the last four years trying to bring her into the country, but her immigration case is stuck, Amiri said, even as he relentlessly contacts immigration services and lawyers.
He apologizes to his wife every day during their daily two to three-hour phone conversations, and tries to console her, but he doesn’t know when she can come to Canada.
“I’m waiting. I’m waiting,” he tells her as she cries. “I’m just hopeless.”
Last month, the United States began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, and now, the Taliban is making sweeping advances across large sections of the country.
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The military organization now controls more than two-thirds of Afghanistan, including Kandahar and Herat, the country’s second and third-largest cities — leaving those who fought there stunned.
The escalating situation also raises fears of a return to the brutal, repressive rule the Taliban imposed before, when it all but eliminated women’s rights and held public executions as it imposed strict Islamic law.
More than 40,000 Canadians served during Canada’s 12-year campaign, including 2,208 members from local bases in Manitoba. Families lost 168 loved ones, seven of whom were from Manitoba.
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“It’s gut-wrenching to watch this, given how much blood and toil and effort we’ve all put into this mission,” retired Maj.-Gen David Fraser told Global News Friday. “To see it unravel so quickly after the U.S. pulled out — and not all their troops have pulled out — it’s just astounding.”
All the progress they made in the last two decades has been quickly destroyed, Fraser said.
“What happened in that transition plan because it doesn’t look like there is a plan at all,” he said. “It looks like they took their toys and ran, and putting aside the decision, you just don’t leave an organization like Afghanistan and the security forces to their own devices … taking away all the hope that they might have had.”
“I think each and every one of us will ask yourselves a question for years to come — ‘Was it worth it?’”
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The Canadian military is preparing to withdraw Canadians, Afghan workers and their families from the embassy. With the growing uncertainty and unrest, Amiri is desperate to get his wife out of Kabul where she currently lives.
“The situation is very bad. It was bad, but right now, it’s getting worse,” Amiri said, adding that it’s especially difficult for those with ties to American, British and Canadian forces, like his wife and her two brothers who worked with the British.
“That’s the worst case,” he said.
“They will be executed right away … There will be no charge. There will be no lawyers. They will kill them as soon as they get captured.”
Amiri says he stays off Facebook to avoid news of more attacks along with the capture or killing of young people.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s very hard for me to talk.”
“One thing I just want to do is sell my house, because I cannot afford to go anywhere, just go sit in front of (the) Ottawa embassy and tell them, ‘What’s going on? Why’re you not helping people?’”
–With files from The Canadian Press
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