Dozens of Afghan athletes left their country on Wednesday aboard a Kabul-Doha flight, as part of a series of evacuations organized by the Qatari government.
These semi-scheduled Qatari-chartered flights have become one of the only reliable exits for Afghans with visas or considered particularly at risk after the Taliban took power.
After music students and their teacher on October 5, it was Wednesday the turn of female sports stars, including basketball player Tahera Yousofi, from Hérat (west), expected in Canada.
It's a great day for all of us, because after many weeks of waiting our journey can finally begin and we are very happy,
" said the 28-year-old at the airport.
The Taliban government does not let us play and does not let us find a job and unfortunately we have to leave this country
", added the one who played until this summer as well in Afghanistan as in international competitions.
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until being ousted from power by US intervention in 2001, the sport was banned.
Since their return, it is partially tolerated for men, but strictly prohibited for women.
Alongside the athletes were also Afghans living abroad, visiting their country when the arrival of the Taliban in August caught them off guard.
Sef and Zohra Amiri, 22 and 26, who live in the UK, had planned a two-week visit.
They found themselves trapped for two months in Afghanistan.
We finally got a phone call from the British Embassy to help us get out of here.
Now we can finally breathe and we can go where we want and do what we want,
”Zohra sums up.
Since the Taliban took power, his family has remained cloistered, fearing violence from the Islamists who crisscross the capital.
It was really scary and sad for us.
As women, we want all the freedoms that are due to us, just like boys,
”adds the young woman.
Qatari flights began on August 31 and depart about twice a week, carrying hundreds of passengers each time.
With the massive departure of educated middle-class Afghans and former government officials, the Taliban fear a "
" that could slow the reconstruction of the country after 20 years of war.
But the Taliban authorities said they would not oppose the departures organized by several countries.