Taliban Takeover Leads to Forced Migration of Christians
08/15/2022 Afghanistan (International Christian Concern) - Today marks one year since Kabul’s collapse following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Strict Islamic law was institutionalized by the Taliban, which ensured the elimination of religious diversity as well as the social ostracization of both ethnic and gender minorities. International Christian Concern (ICC) has published a report, Afghanistan Humanitarian Brief: Situational Overview for Christian Minorities, which documents the religious freedom impact within the country.
Matias Perttula, ICC’s Director of Advocacy, said, “Early on the Taliban attempted to signal to the world how they have reformed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Taliban continue to persecute and oppress all who do not fall in line with their extremist interpretation of Shariah Law. The world must maintain the pressure on the Taliban.”
All Afghan Christians are Muslim-background believers (MBBS), who are vulnerable to severe human rights abuses because Sharia law penalizes conversion away from Islam. ICC’s humanitarian work inside Afghanistan has found that most MBBs belong to the Hazara ethnic minority, several of whom are also women, which further increases their vulnerability to human rights abuses. ICC’s report documents how Afghan Christians who remain inside the country have become internally displaced persons (IDPs) because they are hiding from the Taliban. Consequently, they are isolated from the humanitarian aid normally provided to IDPs.
The report also explores the humanitarian situation of Afghan Christians who managed to escape into a neighboring country such as Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey. Their access to humanitarian aid varies based on location, ranging from complete isolation to eventual incorporation within the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees system. However, ICC’s casework demonstrates that even migration to another country does not protect Afghan Christians from religious discrimination and violence.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Senior Assistance Manager, said, “Whether they remain inside Afghanistan or migrate elsewhere, Afghan Christians cannot seek out humanitarian aid at the same capacity and through the same channels as other Afghans. Consequently, providing humanitarian assistance to Afghan Christians requires a long-term strategy that matches the fluidity of the situation on the ground.”