KABUL: The Taliban have clamped down on Afghans leaving the country as, separately, their forces continue a massive security sweep, going house-to-house across the capital Monday in a “clearing operation”.
The new travel ban was announced by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who packaged the restrictions as being aimed at preventing hardship for Afghans abroad.
Evacuations organised by nations or non-governmental organisations have been banned, while even families attempting to leave the country by their own means now need “an excuse”, or they will be stopped by immigration.
“I have to say clearly that persons who leave the country along with their families and have no excuse… we are preventing them,” Mujahid told a press conference late Sunday.
Women will also not be able to fly abroad unless accompanied by a male relative — mirroring similar domestic restrictions introduced last year which bar solo travel between cities and towns.
“If they (women) want to travel abroad, they should have a chaperone,” Mujahid said.
“This is the order of Islamic sharia law.”
The announcement came the same weekend a search for “kidnappers, thieves and looters” kicked off in Kabul and other Afghan cities — a so-called “clearing operation” separate from the travel measures.
The new travel restrictions will alarm tens of thousands of Afghans who have been promised asylum abroad after working with US-led foreign forces or other Western organisations during the Taliban´s 20-year insurgency.
More than 120,000 Afghans and dual nationals were evacuated up to August 31 when the last US-led troops withdrew, two weeks after the Taliban seized Kabul.
Thousands with similar links are still in Afghanistan, however, desperate to leave and fearful they may be targeted by the Taliban as “collaborators”.
Mujahid said the decision to ban departures came because the Taliban had received reports of thousands of Afghans “living in very bad conditions” abroad.
“The government has the responsibility to protect the people so this will be stopped until we get the assurance that their lives will not be endangered,” he said, adding that they had never promised for evacuations to continue indefinitely.