The World

Afghanistan crisis, a touchstone for human dignity

The flight from Afghanistan of thousands of terrified Afghans, the anguish to leave the country of so many Afghans and Westerners, for whom August 31 is a deadline at Kabul airport, and the obstacles to reception in Western countries, reflect a dramatic attack on human dignity and fraternity.

Rafael Miner-August 26, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
Kabul, Afghanistan

Photo: ©CNS photo/Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla, U.S. Marines handout via Reuters

A little over six thousand kilometers separate Madrid from Kabul, 14 hours by plane. From Rome and the Vatican, slightly less. And from Geneva, headquarters of the United Nations office in Europe, similar. But the distance in terms of human rights has become almost infinite these days.

John Putzer, who, speaking at the 31st special session of the Human Rights Council, urged "to recognize and defend respect for human dignity and the fundamental rights of every person, including the right to life, freedom of religion, the right to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly".

"At this critical moment," he added, "it is vitally important to support the success and security of humanitarian efforts in the country, in a spirit of international solidarity, so as not to lose the progress made, especially in the areas of health and education." According to the Holy See, "inclusive dialogue" is "the most powerful tool" for achieving the goal of peace, and it wishes to appeal to the entire international community to "move from declarations to action" by welcoming refugees "in a spirit of human fraternity."

Monsignor Putzer thus recalled the call to prayer of Pope Francis last August 15, imploring to seek solutions at the table of dialogue, and for the noise of arms to cease. His textual words at the Angelus prayer, were the following: "I beg you to pray with me to the God of peace that the noise of arms may cease and that solutions may be found at the table of dialogue. Only in this way will the martyred population of that country - men, women, the elderly and children - be able to return to their homes and live in peace and security with full mutual respect."

The seizure of Kabul affects us

The return to power of the Taliban has meant the end of twenty years of presence of the United States and its allies. And as Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, wrote, "the seizure of Kabul also affects us" (Famiglia Cristiana). The return of the Taliban affects everyone in every sense, but certainly first of all in the purely physical sense, the struggle for life, the first human right. It is enough to see the images of hundreds of Afghans stuffed in the holds of planes, or the words of Afghans who have recently arrived in our country, such as the captain of the Afghan wheelchair basketball team, Nilofar Bayat, who said in Bilbao: "I am proof that in Afghanistan there is no future and no hope".

Indeed, August 31 is getting closer and closer. This is the date agreed between the United States and the Taliban for the withdrawal of troops, but thousands of people are still awaiting evacuation and it may be necessary to extend it. For the Taliban this possible extension "is a red line", "or there will be consequences". Instability and suspicion of attacks are growing at an airport where thousands of people are desperately trying to gain access.

Human fraternity

The Taliban regime's threats to the life, dignity and freedom of individuals are a source of great concern for thousands of people in a country with a small number of Christians, and certainly for Pope Francis, who held a historic meeting in Iraq in March of this year, in Abraham's ancient hometown of Ur of the Chaldees, with representatives of Jewish and a larger number of Muslim communities, and urged them to walk a path of peace, fraternity and forgiveness.

The Afghan crisis is also, in the same vein, a blow to the teachings of Pope Francis in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, signed by the Holy Father on October 4 last year in Assisi. As Professor Ramiro Pellitero underlined in this portal, in dealing with fraternity and social friendship, "the Pope states that he dwells on the universal dimension of fraternity.It is not in vain that one of the key points of the document is the rejection of individualism. We are all brothers and sisters, members of the same human family, which comes from a single Creator, and which sails in the same boat. Globalization shows us the need to work together to promote the common good and care for life, dialogue and peace.

The reception and efforts to integrate the many thousands of refugees fleeing in terror from their own country will be a touchstone for visualizing support for the dignity of the human person, regardless of race, religion or nationality, and adherence to the teachings of the Pope.

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