Afghan ambassador to Canada warns of risk to Afghans seeking passports from Taliban


Afghanistan's ambassador is urging action to ensure that Afghans who have been approved to come to Canada do not have to risk detention by the Taliban when they apply for a passport.

Hassan Soroosh, ambassador to Canada, said in an interview that Afghans are facing house to house searches, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances under the Taliban.

He said Afghans who helped Canada and its international partners before the Taliban regained control are in a state of "high vulnerability."

"In Afghanistan, there is the risk of detention and prosecution for those who want to get a passport under the Taliban," he said. "Those who worked for the Canadian government and international partners – the risk is always there."

The ambassador called for a relaxing of rules on documents for approved Afghan refugees and immigrants trying to reach Canada.

"We wish and we hope there will be a more flexible approach when it comes to documentation inside Afghanistan and also the paperwork that is required in terms of bringing people to Canada," he said.

He also called on Canada to widen the eligibility criteria for coming to the country under a humanitarian program set up to help vulnerable Afghans facing Taliban persecution.

Canadian charities helping Afghans say many with permission to travel to Canada are unable to get to neighbouring countries to fly here because they do not have the paperwork or a passport to cross the border.

Others have been waiting so long in countries like Pakistan and Uzbekistan for their applications to be processed by Ottawa their visas have expired and they are being sent back to Afghanistan where they face Taliban reprisals.

Aidan Strickland, spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, said the department was letting Afghans who have been unable to leave know that it "can help facilitate travel to Pakistan."

She said Canada had been issuing single-journey travel documents for Afghans who had made it out of the country but did not have a passport to board a plane.