Taliban backtracks after saying Afghans barred from leaving country, women need chaperone

Taliban backtracks after saying Afghans barred from leaving country, women need chaperone
The Taliban have announced they aim to prevent Afghans from leaving the country and said women can only fly overseas if they are accompanied by a male chaperone.
2 min read
01 March, 2022
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has backtracked on his comments on Sunday [Getty Images]

The Taliban government in Kabul has backtracked on comments made on Sunday when the spokesperson announced an effective ban on Afghans leaving the country and said that women would need a male chaperone for out-board flights.

The insurgent group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid announced the new measures during a press conference on Sunday, claiming they will be in place until the situation of Afghanistan "improves".

The move to restrict Afghans from travelling abroad has been met by stern criticism among Western powers.

Hugo Shorter, the Chargé d'Affaires of the UK Mission to Afghanistan, called these orders "unacceptable restrictions on freedom of movement” in a tweet on Monday.

Zabihullah later clarified his comments on Twitter, saying the new measures only apply to those being evacuated or travelling abroad 'illegally'.

"Our compatriots who have legal documents and invitations can travel outside the country and can return to the country confidently," he tweeted.

It is unclear whether these rules would prevent western states from evacuating the thousands of Afghans who worked with NATO forces during the American-led occupation of Afghanistan.

More than 120,000 Afghan citizens have been evacuated by various western powers when the Taliban seized Kabul in August 2021.

The last official evacuation flight was on 1 December. Hundreds of others however continue to try to leave Afghanistan overland through Pakistan, DAWN news reported.

The announcement comes on the heels of a massive house-to-house sweep conducted by the Taliban across multiple cities in Afghanistan, ostensibly in search of illegal weapons and criminals.

The operation has alarmed many of those who fear being targeted by the insurgent group for their supposed of the Western-backed regime propped up by US-led forces until they left on 31 August last year.