The first Afghan refugee was received in Chile

After 14 years of separation, Afghan teacher Zainab Momeny met her sister Zahra in Chile on Friday, where she arrived as a refugee after fleeing her country when the Taliban seized power on August 15.

“She says that she is very happy, she says: ‘I still have a hard time believing that I am safe here’ (in Chile), and she feels that she can finally sleep peacefully without worry“said Zahra Habibi, who translated her sister’s statements at a press conference upon her arrival at the Santiago airport.

Zainab “He is the first Afghan person we have hosted”, highlighted Carolina Valdivia, Chilean Undersecretary of Foreign Relations, who also welcomed him at the airport. This 33-year-old teacher who lived in Kabul found refuge in Chile after her sister Zahra, who has lived in the South American country since 2008, asked the Santiago government for help.

In a moving account, Zainab recounted that in order to leave Afghanistan, she first had to hide with another family at a friend’s home. Under the strict moral standards of the Taliban, she feared for her life as a woman, a college professor, and a divorcee. Later, he was able to travel to neighboring Pakistan. “The situation of women is very limited, it is summarized in the four walls of the house, Women are not allowed to study higher education, they are not allowed to work, they only allow up to sixth grade, “Zainab explained, according to her sister’s translation.


“It is a supercritical situation, women have made their situation much more fragile, more than it was before, being repressed with whipping, beating. There are women detained and they do not know where they are,” he added. Zainab managed to board a plane to Pakistan, where he received the help of Leopoldo Sahores, the Argentine ambassador to that country, who gave him the safe-conducts that Chile granted him to continue his journey. After that he flew to Dubai, Paris and finally Santiago.

“I was hoping to find her alive, but something about me always said ‘what happens if that doesn’t happen?’ I haven’t seen her in 14 years, so I see her more emaciated, a little older than we were before two o’clock, and she says: ‘I lived in the war, what do you expect more from me?‘”Zahra Habibi recounted.

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Now Zainab must comply with a seven-day preventive quarantine for the covid-19 pandemic, which he will carry out at the house of a friend of his sister. You will then explore options to study in Chile or another country. Chile has already issued 20 safe-conducts to receive Afghan citizens. Some are in Pakistan and others in Iran. The Chilean government explained that it does not have the means to get people out of Afghanistan, but it can provide safe conducts and documents that allow refugees to travel.


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