And the waiting goes on

Kabul Luftbrücke

19. June 2023- 5 min read

Ali: Das Warten nimmt kein Ende

“During my time in Pakistan, I had only fears and worries. I didn’t know how things would go on, what the future would bring. Would I ever arrive in Germany? How long will I have to wait here?”

After the Western military withdrew troops from Afghanistan, the radical Islamist Taliban took complete power on Aug. 15, 2021. In the chaos of the initial evacuation missions, the allocation of German admission permits to acutely endangered Afghan*s was equally chaotic and arbitrary. Family members were often left out or forgotten in the listing process. In laborious and lengthy “hardship” procedures, missing entry permits can be applied for. But for that long, families are stuck in neighboring countries at their own expense. There they can do nothing but wait, often for months.

Since the beginning of last year, a Kabul Luftbruecke shelter in Islamabad has been accommodating people who have an entry permit for Germany but whose onward journey has been delayed due to bureaucratic hurdles. Affected are, for example, people whose family members are still waiting for their approval or visas and without whom they cannot continue their journey. In such cases, the German government does not provide care during stopovers.

One of them is 22-year-old Ali, who came to Islamabad more than a year ago. 

“I was the only one in my family who received an acceptance letter to Germany. But I knew they would be in danger if they stayed,” Ali says. 

“So I stayed in Islamabad and the KLB team helped me apply for an admission permit for my family members. It took over a year for everyone to be approved.”

For about two and a half months, Ali’s parents and brothers have been with him in Islamabad. Finally, everyone was ready to move on, the appointment at the German embassy was set, and the family was put on the next flight list. On April 5, the flight was supposed to leave for Germany.

Menschen sitzen im Garten unter einem Schirm

Ali and his family in the garden of the accommodation in Islamabad

“Then, at the end of March, I heard rumors that there was to be an entry ban on people from Afghanistan. I hoped it wasn’t true, but it really happened,” Ali says. 

“I was so hoping this situation would finally be over. The fear, the disappointment, the waiting and the tension. Now we’re stuck again.” 

Pakistan rarely offers a safe place and a future for refugees from Afghanistan. 

“I couldn’t do anything in Pakistan, I had no job, no school. When my visa expired, I got really scared. I couldn’t really go out anymore. The police recognize Afghans and they could ask me for my passport and visa at any time and then lock me up and deport me.”

Ali says he already has a few friends and colleagues in Munich. 

“I hope to have a better future in Germany. I want to achieve my goals and I want to support the girls and boys from my projects who are still in Afghanistan.”

Together with his older brothers, Ali founded a BMX club in Kabul in 2016. The club was called “Drop and Ride,” short for “Drop Your Gun and Ride a Bike.” Ali was a coach in the club and a project manager. 

“The club had several goals,” he says. “We wanted to encourage people to ride bikes to reduce air pollution in the city. And we wanted to give girls and women access to sports and workouts. That worked; a few years later, I sometimes saw girls still riding their bikes alone ar