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The Azadi Briefing: Afghans Evacuated From Sudan Face Uncertain Fate Under Taliban

Smoke rises above the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after bombardments on May 1. Some Afghans are unwilling to leave Sudan despite the fighting that has broken out in the past month.

Welcome back to The Azadi Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that unpacks the key issues in Afghanistan. To subscribe, click here.

I'm Mustafa Sarwar, a senior news editor at RFE/RL's Radio Azadi. Here's what I've been tracking and what I'm keeping an eye on in the days ahead.

The Key Issue

At least 120 Afghans were residing in Sudan when war erupted in the African country last month.

Forty-nine Afghans have been evacuated from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, from where they returned to Afghanistan on May 5, according to the Taliban.

Several dozen Afghans, including students and workers, remain trapped in Sudan, where clashes between warring generals have killed hundreds and uprooted hundreds of thousands of people.

Why It's Important: Since the Taliban seized power in 2021, hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled the country to escape repression and the devastating economic and humanitarian crises.

Many Afghans who have returned in recent days to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan face an uncertain fate, including Mirwais Hamidi, who ran a restaurant in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

"About a year ago, I moved to Sudan and opened a restaurant there,” he told Radio Azadi. “Five other [Afghans] were working there until the war broke out and we had to leave that country.”

Khaled was studying medicine at the International University of Africa in Khartoum. “Unfortunately, the war is still going on,” he told Radio Azadi. “I hope to be able to return to continue my studies."

What's Next: The Taliban-led government's ambassador to Saudi Arabia told Radio Azadi that efforts were under way to evacuate the remaining Afghans trapped in Sudan. But he said some Afghans are unwilling to leave Sudan.

The Taliban remains unrecognized by any country in the world, possibly complicating efforts to swiftly evacuate Afghans.

Mohammad Mossadegh, an Afghan who studied in Sudan, said he is in contact with several families and students who are still there. "Afghans who remained in Sudan are in good condition and were transferred to safe areas," he told Radio Azadi.

The Week's Best Stories

The Taliban has ordered all taxi drivers in Afghanistan to change the color of their vehicles from yellow to turquoise. The decision has angered taxi drivers and residents, who say the move is unnecessary, considering the more significant issues the country is facing.

A blacksmith in Kabul is building solar heaters as an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to using fuels in poverty-stricken Afghanistan. Parabola-shaped solar heaters have grown in popularity as the country grapples with a chronic energy crisis.

What To Keep An Eye On

The United Nations has recently called on the Taliban to end corporal punishment in Afghanistan, including public executions, floggings, and stoning.

In a May 8 report, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that "in the last six months alone, 274 men, 58 women, and two boys have been publicly flogged."

UNAMA said "corporal punishment is a violation of the [UN] Convention Against Torture & must cease."

The Taliban’s Foreign Ministry said that "in the event of a conflict between international human rights law and Islamic law, the government is obliged to follow Islamic law."

Two days after the UNAMA report was released, a man and woman were public flogged in the northern province of Parwan, a local member of the Taliban told Radio Azadi.

Why It's Important: The Taliban has reintroduced corporal punishments in recent months, including the public flogging of men and women for crimes including theft, eloping from home, and committing adultery.

Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada has ordered the group's courts to employ strict interpretations of Shari'a law, which prescribes punishment such as stoning, execution, amputation, and public lashings. The Taliban handed down similar punishments during its previous rule.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have.

Until next time,

Mustafa Sarwar

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    Mustafa Sarwar

    Mustafa Sarwar is a senior news editor for RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, one of the most popular and trusted media outlets in Afghanistan. Nearly half of the country's adult audience accesses Azadi's reporting on a weekly basis.