Malala Yousafzai has said the rescue of women rights activists and others from Taliban-occupied Afghanistan has heralded “hope and security” for vulnerable Afghans.
The comments of the Nobel Peace Prize winner come when it was revealed that a former Afghan minister as well as a lawyer who prosecuted more than 2,000 Taliban prisoners were among the Afghans who arrived in Greece on Monday.
A private charter flight transported the group of 119 Afghans from Kabul’s capital – with campaigners working with Yousafzai among the refugees.
Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist campaigning for women’s education, said: “Today’s arrival brings hope and security to so many incredible, vulnerable Afghans, including women’s rights activists, journalists and Malala Fund partners.
“I am grateful to Prime Minister Mitsotakis and the Government of Greece for their support.”
Many of the Afghans who fled had been captured in hiding from the Taliban, with members of the hardline Islamist group chasing those allied with the previous government.
Faridoon Hazeen, a lawyer investigating people connected to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, was on the plane with his wife and four children.
He said, “We had to go. The Taliban had been looking for us. They went to my apartment and broke everything. They took my older brother hostage for eight days, and later they took my little brother and father. My older brother stayed tortured and is still in critical condition.
“By helping with this escape, the Greek government has proven that humanity means something, and it is playing its part for the people who need help and support. I am really grateful for that.”
Greece has so far supported the rescue of 700 Afghans, including women judges, politicians, artists and human rights activists.
Amed Khan, the founder of the Zaka Khan Foundation, which funded and organized the flight, said: “The children, women and men on this flight were targeted by the Taliban, their lives were in immediate danger and so it was incredibly important that we were able to get them out quickly.
“It is a great honor for the Greek government that it has been so helpful in facilitating their journey to safety and offering vulnerable people a refuge when they needed it most.”
The independent recently reported girls from the Afghan national football team for youth and their families who escaped the Taliban face being stuck in temporary housing or split up because a council says it cannot rehouse them all.
A leaked email from Khalida Popal, the former Afghan women’s captain, suggests that Leeds City Council refuses to offer accommodation to all 132 Afghans in the group, which includes 32 teenage footballers, their families, coaches and other staff.
This came afterwards The independent revealed in early September that the girls from the national football team had been stranded in Afghanistan, with activists warning “time is running out” and the girls were in danger of “serious threats” from the Taliban and “disintegrating”.