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Footballer Dies, Pop Star Flees, Robotic Team Evacuated: Where are Afghan's Top Faces as Taliban Rekindles Fear

File photo of Footballer Zaki Anwari (Credits: Twitter)

File photo of Footballer Zaki Anwari (Credits: Twitter)

From artists to athletes, from writers to activists, Afghan nationals are fleeing their country after Taliban takeover as they worry for their safety under the the Insurgent regime.

As Afghanistan falls to Taliban on August 15, people from the country started fleeing the war-torn country. Visuals of crowded Kabul runway, cargo jets cramped with people and horrifying scenes of children being handed over barbed wires have filled the internet.

While some died fleeing Kabul, others luckily managed to get out of the country to safe refuge. Here are a list of actors, changemakers, famous celebrities from Afghanistan who fled the country recently or in the past:

Zaki Anwari

After Taliban’s capture of Kabul on August 16, there was a chaos in the country as thousands of people tried fleeing the country. Visuals from the Kabul airport showed people hanging outside, one of whom was the Afghanistan National Team’s footballer called Jaki Anwari. He died after falling from the plane while he was taking off on Monday. As per reports, Zaki died after falling from a C-17 aircraft of the US Air Force, and this news was confirmed by Afghanistan’s General Directorate for Sports.

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All girl robotics team

Nine members of an Afghan all-girls robotics team recently arrived in Qatar after scrambling for days to get into safety. Their flight out of Afghanistan was organised by the Qatar government, which expedited visas and sent an aircraft.

The all girl robotics team first made headlines in 2017 after winning a special award at an international robotics competition in the US. The team was widely praised as a shining example of the potential of women’s education in Afghanistan. The robotics team including teenage members, was formed by Afghan tech entrepreneur and DCF founder Roya Mahboob in 2017. The girls will remain in Qatar and move further to continue their studies.

Talibshah Hosini

Talibshah Hosini played some tough roles as an actor in Afghanistan before he fled. None was as hard as his real-life fight for survival in a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. The 35-year-old from Faryab province in Afghanistan left a career in theatre and film in his home country and now spends his days trying to keep his family safe in a makeshift shack made of pieces of wood and metal. “In the 18 years since I became part of the cinema, I have played many tough roles, but this role is the most difficult one,” he said.

Afghan women’s basketball star

As captain of Afghanistan’s wheelchair basketball team and a women’s rights activist, Nilofar Bayat fled for her life when the Taliban took over, seeking safety in Spain where she hopes to soon be back on the court. Speaking to reporters in the northern city of Bilbao just days after arriving on a Spanish military plane, this 28-year-old athlete spoke of her shock at how quickly the Taliban swept into the capital Kabul and of her struggle to get out.

“I really want the UN and all countries to help Afghanistan.. because the Taliban are the same as they were 20 years ago," she said. “If you see Afghanistan now, it’s all men, there are no women because they don’t accept woman as part of society."

After a nerve-wracking escape, she and her husband Ramesh, who plays for Afghanistan’s national basketball team, landed at an airbase just outside Madrid on Friday and are now starting a new life in Bilbao.

Malala Yousafzai

Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has expressed fear for women and girls in Afghanistan as the Taliban has once again taken control of the war-torn country after 20 years of US military operations.

“The Taliban - who until losing power 20 years ago barred nearly all girls and women from attending school and doled out harsh punishment to those who defied them - are back in control. Like many women, I fear for my Afghan sisters," Malala wrote in an op-ed published in New York Times on August 17.

Yousafzai has been a long an advocate for girls’ education and survived a Pakistani Taliban assassination attempt when she was just 15 years old when they shot her in the head. Since then, the Oxford graduate has become a global figure promoting education for girls. The terror group took control over Afghanistan on Sunday after entering the presidential palace in Kabul.

Khaled Hosseini

Author Khaled Hosseini in a recent facebook post shares his memories from the last time Taliban had ruled the country. Khaled is known for writing New York Times bestsellers The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed. Born in Kabul, he moved to the US in 1980.

“The American decision has been made. And the nightmare Afghans feared is unfolding before our eyes. We cannot abandon a people that have searched forty years for peace. Afghan women must not be made to languish again behind locked doors & pulled curtains. #PrayforAfghanistan," he said in a post.

Aryana Sayeed

Afghanistan’s biggest pop star has fled the country in a cargo plane out of Kabul as Taliban takes over Afghanistan. In a post on Instagram, she shared a picture of her on a US flight and revealed in the caption that she has reached Doha, Qatar and is waiting for her flight to Istanbul, Lokmat said in a report.

She is one of the most popular Afghan singers and TV personalities. She sings in Persian and Pashto and had won multiple awards including Afghan Icon Award and the 2017 Best Female Artist of Afghanistan.

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first published:August 24, 2021, 07:40 IST