Regional Victorian Afghan community makes heartbreaking calls back home

Taliban in Kabul

Shepparton’s Abdullah Naveed says loved ones in Afghanistan are feeling ‘scared and hopeless’.

Taliban insurgents have taken control of nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week.

Mr Naveed says he has little hope for the future of his homeland.

On Sunday, Abdullah Naveed picked up the phone and made a series of calls, each more heartbreaking than the last. He spoke to his family, his friends and religious leaders from his homeland of Afghanistan. And with each call, heard the same hollow ring of fear and hopelessness.

“They were all crying,” he said. “They were very scared. “It’s just one more darkest day added in the history of Afghanistan.”


Taliban in Kabul
Plumes of smoke rise into the sky after fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel in Kandahar, Afghanistan.(AP: Sidiqullah Khan)

Afghan families fearing for their lives

Mr Naveed was born into the Hazara community, one of the most persecuted groups in Afghanistan. Moving eventually to Pakistan, then Indonesia, he made a home in Shepparton in 2014.

Today, he works as a community development officer for the Ethnic Council of Shepparton, supporting the region’s large Afghan community. He, like many others, has been helplessly watching the situation back in his homeland.

Mr Naveed’s loved ones are among a population left fearing for their lives, after Taliban insurgents took control of nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week. Hundreds of Afghans have flooded airports, in a desperate attempt to flee the country. It is feared those left behind will face brutal reprisals from the Taliban.

“They don’t know what will happen to their life shortly today, tomorrow, in the future,” Mr Naveed said.

Naveed Abdullah
Shepparton Afghan community leader Abdullah Naveed says he is heartbroken by the unfolding situation in Afghanistan.(
ABC Goulburn Murray: Matt Dowling)

Many in Afghanistan have already experienced life under the militant extremists. It has been just two decades since the Taliban were overthrown by the US-led invasion. “They think the Taliban will be more brutal, more bad than the first time,” Mr Naveed said.

Afghan Australians left ‘totally confused’

Mr Naveed said he had been left “totally confused” by the plight in Afghanistan. “I don’t know why the world, especially America, European countries – even Australia – why they abandoned Afghan civilians,” he said. Mr Naveed felt the past two decades, which cost more than 47,000 civilian lives, had all been for nothing.

“The Afghan population sacrificed their lives, as did America and all other countries involved with Afghan situation,” he said. “They did not or they could not do anything.

No hope for homeland

The Taliban has assured it would provide safety for citizens. But Mr Naveed is doubtful. “When the Taliban surrounded Kabul, they announced forgiveness for every Afghan,” he said. “But yesterday, I saw they shot at 15 police in Ghazni province, in my province.

“Therefore I absolutely don’t believe what they are saying now. “They will do as they have done last time. “And now, I think there will not be anyone to control them.”


Taliban in Kabul
Internally displaced families take shelter in a public park in Kabul, Afghanistan.(Reuters)

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