Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Afghan Diplomats Seek Permission to Remain in U.S.

Already reeling from a Taliban takeover of their government and a humanitarian disaster in their homeland, Afghan diplomats in the United States are grappling with another bleak reality: the loss of pay and the possibility of being deported. Several dozen diplomats assigned to Afghanistan’s embassy in Washington and consulates in New York and Los Angeles have not been paid since October, officials said, when American banks froze accounts to prevent the Taliban from gaining access to the embassy’s funds. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/13/us/politics/afghan-embassy-diplomats-taliban.html) But the envoys, who were part of the American-backed government that was overthrown in August, are keeping the embassy open — continuing diplomatic work but also preserving the diplomatic status that allows them to remain in the United States. Should the embassy close before they are granted asylum or other legal residency, the diplomats could find themselves stateless and without the permits needed to get a job. Around the world, Afghan diplomats continue to carry out their duties independent of the leadership in Kabul. Many have criticized the new government as “illegitimate” and still fly the internationally accepted flag of Afghanistan over their embassies instead of the Taliban’s banner. Others have lobbied their host nations against unconditionally recognizing the Taliban’s authority. Yet the situation is taking a toll on diplomats who are also still coming to grips with representing an elected government that has ceased to exist. Some have no health insurance and are racking up thousands of dollars in medical bills. In France, diplomats have moved into the embassy compound to avoid paying rent on private apartments, according to two former Afghan diplomats.

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