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Taliban Call for Stop to Afghan Brain Drain

FILE - Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban's acting foreign minister, in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 8, 2023. The Taliban have called on Western countries to stop evacuating and resettling educated and skilled Afghans abroad. The West, he said, "should not take them out of this country."

The Taliban have called on Western countries to stop evacuating and resettling educated and skilled Afghans abroad, saying the practice hurts Afghanistan.

Boasting about improved security in the war-ravaged country, Taliban leaders say all Afghans, including those who had worked for the previous Afghan government, are safe at home and can live and work freely.

"The world should also listen to this message that they should not open [immigration] cases for Afghans under the impression that their lives are at risk here," Amir Khan Muttaqi, Taliban acting foreign minister, said on Tuesday.

"They should not hurt Afghanistan's talents, Afghanistan's scientific cadres and Afghanistan's prides, and should not take them out of this country."

Tens of thousands of Afghans, mostly educated individuals who worked under the previous U.S.-backed government, have fled their country over the past two years fearing Taliban persecution.

The United Nations and other human rights groups have accused the Taliban of extrajudicial detention, torture and execution of some members of the former Afghan security personnel — charges the Taliban deny.

The United States, Canada and several European countries have admitted more than 150,000 Afghan refugees and asylum-seekers since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

Last week, Khairullah Khairkhwa, Taliban acting minister for information and culture, alleged that Kabul University lecturers were receiving invitations from abroad to apply for migration.

The remarks were made in response to media reports that more than half of Kabul University lecturers, about 400 individuals, have migrated out of Afghanistan largely because of security concerns, Taliban restrictions, and other social and economic hardships.

Hundreds of media professionals have also left Afghanistan, leading to significant setbacks to free media, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Risky migration

Last week, the bodies of 18 Afghan emigrants, who died in February while being smuggled to Europe, were brought to Kabul.

It took several months to transfer the bodies from Bulgaria to Afghanistan, for which Taliban officials blame "unjust" Western sanctions.

The Taliban regime is not recognized by any country, and the United States has imposed terrorism-related economic and travel sanctions on Taliban leaders and institutions.

Dozens of Afghans, including women and children, reportedly perished in a shipwreck off the southern coast of Italy in February.

At least 1,645 Afghan migrants were reported missing or dead from 2014 to 2022, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Millions of Afghans are scattered around the world as refugees, asylum-seekers and emigrants, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency, which has ranked Afghanistan as the fourth-largest refugee exporting country in the world after Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine.

Insecurity, poverty, unemployment and expectations of better living conditions are considered the main drivers of migration from Afghanistan.

In public statements, Taliban officials offer immediate employment to Afghans with specific technical expertise.

"Send me anyone with a Ph.D. or master's degree in geodesy, exploration or probing of fuel, and I will employ him the next day," Shahabuddin Delawar, Taliban minister for mines, said last week.

The Islamist regime has defied widespread international calls to form an inclusive government.

The Taliban have strictly monopolized the government, refusing to share power with any group or non-Taliban individual. Women are particularly excluded for all political and senior positions.

Suspending the constitution, the Taliban have dissolved Afghanistan's national assembly, election bodies and the national human rights commission, and have centered all powers in the hands of their unseen supreme leader.