Afghan ambassador to Canada forging ahead, despite Taliban takeover

November 4, 2021
Afghan ambassador to Canada forging ahead, despite Taliban takeover


Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada said he and his staff are still working and committed to representing the people of that country, despite its new government.

It’s been nearly three months since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan forced thousands to flee for their lives. Canada has pledged to settle 40,000 Afghan refugees. About 300 of them have come to Ottawa.

Afghanistan ambassador Hassan Soroosh said he and his team in Ottawa remain committed, not to representing the Taliban, but “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” 

“We are basically representing the people of Afghanistan,” including their values and principles Soroosh told the CBC’s Adrian Harewood.

Soroosh said the work he and embassy staff are doing, however, has become difficult. They have not communicated with the Taliban and since their takeover of the country, the embassy’s finances have become strained. Operations have needed to be scaled down at their missions across Canada, he said.

“Everything, as I said, happened so quickly and it created basically so much confusion and disappointment among all of our people,” Saroosh said of watching the events of the last few months unfold in his home country.

He said “despite all the challenges that we face currently in Afghanistan, we should not lose hope.”

‘Necessary to engage with the Taliban’

The embassy still provides consular services to Afghan immigrants now in Canada. They are also in conversations with the Canadian government on the evacuation and resettlement efforts of refugees, including coordinating with local volunteers.

Thousands of refugees waiting outside the Kabul airport in September after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. (Submitted by David Lavery)

“We feel like it’s our moral obligation to continue our work, despite all the challenges, despite a financial constraint,” Saroosh said.

With restrictions being placed on women and girls in Afghanistan, and reports of forcible displacement of some communities there, moving forward he said scaled up and immediate international response is necessary.

“In the context of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, I think it is very much necessary to engage with the Taliban but beyond this, I think the overall values and principles should not be compromised,” he said.

“With that support from our international partners, we will ensure an inclusive future for all Afghans. People do not want to lose another generation to bloodshed.” 

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