Augsto Santos Silva explaining to SIC that the Portuguese government is ready to help

Porto’s ‘hunger-strike’ Afghan hears government will guarantee entry visa for mother and sister

Nasir Ahmad, the Afghan refugee living in Porto desperate to save his mother and sister from life in his home country (click here), has heard that the Portuguese government will guarantee the women an entry visa.

The hunger strike that he began earlier this week is unnecessary, foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva stresses.

Talking to SIC television news, Mr Santos Silva said: “The government’s response is yes. In everything that depends on us… the concession of authorisation…of a visa… for the entry of these people into Portugal. The visa is guaranteed”.

The country’s head of diplomacy said he has been in touch with Mr Ahmad and explained that the government is now seeking to “support” the two women in the “process that implies their exit from Afghanistan”.

It is not however an exit that ‘depends exclusively, or predominantly on the Portuguese government’.

“There is no reason for (Nasir) to stage a hunger-strike against the Portuguese government”, he repeated, “when the government and the Portuguese in general are on his side in this more than legitimate attempt to bring his direct family members to our country for their safety…”

But the next steps are fraught with uncertainty. With allied forces now gone from Afghanistan, Nasir Ahmad’s invalid mother and activist sister have few instant options.

The Portuguese military who went into Kabul last week to help with evacuation efforts managed to get in touch with them, he has explained, and asked them to ‘get to the airport’. 

“But they couldn’t, because the Taliban would not let them… There were a lot of people, and they couldn’t get into the airport – and then the explosion happened”, Nasir told Público.

In fact, since the explosion caused by a suicide bomber last Thursday, Nasir and his family members has been ‘without answers’, says the paper.

In other words, the Portuguese government may be ready to help, but the logistics of being able to do so are far from having been worked out.

Much could depend on the outcome of talks ongoing in Qatar at the moment over how to reopen Kabul airport so foreign nationals and Afghans ‘left behind’ can have a chance to escape the new regime.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com