Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021

Yesterday was the Afghanistan withdrawal deadline. The Americans have left the country. All other foreign country troops left over the weekend or on Friday. For many Afghans, this would mean the loss of a precious route out.

Between Afghanistan and Singapore, 2021, Fié Neo
Limits, 2021, Fié Neo

The Taliban is still hunting down journalists, activists, former local staff and their families. Some have already been killed over the past weeks. People want to leave and live.

This painting sums up how I’ve been feeling over the past weeks – trying to help some families there while physically being in a country of privilege and comfort. Life went on as per normal here, the news of Afghanistan just a tragedy worthy of maybe five minutes of attention for many people here. Over there it’s life and death, trauma and fear.

My midnights spent researching and writing emails to embassies received no response. Over there, it’s a privilege to have a passport, to be educated, to understand a different language, to have worked for international organisations. Many people don’t have that privilege and without that, not even a shot at making it to the evacuation list.

As of now, if you are on the Taliban’s black list, there’s no legal way out. In fact, for most Afghans there’s no way out that’s not dangerous or life threatening.

I’m writing this so that the Afghans left behind will not be forgotten. I’m writing this so that more of us will care enough to try and do something or influence our governments. I’m writing this so that precious lives won’t be forgotten and swept away as just another tragedy we cannot do anything about so we pretend nothing happened.

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