In Doha, a four-star transit camp for Afghan exiles

In Doha, a four-star transit camp for Afghan exiles

In Qatar, Park View Villas, a newly built subdivision on the outskirts of Doha, was due to open its doors during the 2022 World Cup. But the Taliban’s entry into Kabul in mid-August hastened their start-up. Instead of being shown by football fans or FIFA staff at the World Cup opening in November next year, the venue was opened at the end of August by Afghan refugees.

The residence is one of the sites taken over in the emirate to house those who have fled Kabul and its new Islamist masters, on the planes of Qatar Airways, the only airline flying to Afghanistan. Thousands of evacuees have passed there in recent weeks, and nearly 400 people are now living there awaiting a visa that would allow them to resettle in a third country, the United States, Germany or elsewhere.

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This four-star transit camp consists of about a hundred units of a uniform design, linked by tree-lined paths, handball and basketball courts. Enriched for the occasion with an open-air concert and theater stage, it has the false atmosphere of a holiday village. Accommodation is fully funded by the Doha authorities, from breakfast to diapers, including psychotherapy sessions and drawing lessons.

Fear of an uncertain future

This is the good humanitarian work of the emirate. As usual, Qatar plays the role of charitable mediator while ensuring that its guests do not take root in their homeland. Of the 60,000 Afghans who have passed through its territory since August 15, a very small handful have obtained the right to reside there.

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The residents of Park View Villas, mostly members of the Afghan liberal elite, artists and athletes or former government executives, form a colony of bleak exiles. Everyone is divided between the comfort of escaping Taliban rule, the pain of uprooting and the fear of an uncertain future.

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Half of my body is here in Qatar and the other half is in Afghanistan. Khatereh, a 29-year-old former Finance Ministry employee, laments, her hair covered in an elegant turquoise shawl. In the living room of the sand-colored little house occupied by this young bride, the lampshades are still covered in their plastic wrap. A large plasma screen, sofa, chairs, coffee table and one for dinner complement this impersonal and practical basic summer furniture.

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