YouTuber funds escape from Taliban of 170 Hazara filmmakers, activists to Canada News & More

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OTTAWA — A YouTuber who provides funding ideas helped fund the escape of 170 Afghans from the Taliban to Canada.

David Lee, an investor who lives in Texas, helped a big group of stranded Afghans get to the Pakistan border after the Taliban took management final August.

The (*170*), who arrived in Calgary earlier this week, included filmmakers, members of Afghanistan’s inventive neighborhood and human-rights activists.

They fled Kabul final summer time when the Taliban took management however had been stranded in Kandahar, within the south of Afghanistan, with no funds to get to the Pakistan border. They had days to get to a border crossing earlier than it closed however had spent all their cash fleeing Kabul.


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Lee, who had beforehand funded the escape of a gaggle of 38 (*170*) to Pakistan, in addition to emergency meals shipments to Afghanistan, was contacted by an Afghan from an help group within the United States to see if he might urgently assist.

Members of the 170-strong group are not looking for to be recognized for concern of Taliban reprisals towards family and friends.

Taliban fundamentalists have focused democracy and ladies activists, in addition to musicians, smashing their devices and beating them up, in accordance to Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, who was born in Pakistan and has contacts with many Afghans. She mentioned one skilled Afghan musician she is aware of buried his instrument for concern of persecution.

The Taliban has additionally imposed harsh restrictions on what Afghans can watch and banned ladies from showing in tv dramas, in accordance to a report by the BBC. The Ministry of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has instructed broadcasters not to display screen motion pictures or packages which might be “against Islamic or Afghan values.”


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With some of his YouTube followers, Lee raised round US$12,000 inside hours to fund taxi fares and different prices to allow the refugees to get to a crossing into Pakistan earlier than the border closed.

Lee, who provides funding schooling through YouTube, had beforehand helped a gaggle of 38 Afghans, together with the household of a scholar on the University of British Columbia, to cross the Pakistan border. He warned the contact who requested him for assist that the group had simply days to get out of the nation earlier than the Afghan-Pakistan border close to Quetta closed.

But native bus companies that might have gotten them to the border ceased after the Taliban took energy.

“They wished to cross the border however they had been caught. They had used up all their cash to get to Kandahar. Taxis had been charging costs ten occasions larger than typical. I had helped 38 others cross the border and I mentioned, ‘Your group needs to move as soon as possible,”‘ he said.


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“I tapped my network and a bunch of people who watch investors’ movies, and inside just a few hours we obtained the charges — it was about $12,000 for his or her prices, most of it for transportation. They made it out simply within the nick of time. A pair of days later the land border shut.”

The cash was wired to Pakistan the place a go-between managed to organize transportation for the group of (*170*).

(*170*) are one of Afghanistan’s largest minorities and communicate Hazaraqi, a dialect of Persian. They are additionally present in components of Iran and Pakistan, with a big inhabitants in Quetta. Historically they’ve confronted persecution in Afghanistan, together with by the primarily Pashtun Taliban.

The border, close to Quetta, closed inside days of the refugees crossing. Some of the group virtually didn’t make it throughout, Lee mentioned. One man spent three days on the border making an attempt to persuade the guards to let him cross. At the border, the refugees had their baggage taken away from them after which returned on the Pakistan facet.


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From the border they journeyed to Quetta the place they ended up sleeping on the ground of an unheated marriage corridor.

In Islamabad, with the assistance of human-rights teams, they had been referred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which referred them to Canada’s “special humanitarian program” — one of two arrange to assist carry 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada. The program is meant to assist susceptible teams together with human-rights activists, ladies leaders, persecuted non secular or ethnic minorities, LGBTQ folks and journalists.

In Islamabad, Lee mentioned, Canadian embassy workers interviewed the refugees and took biometric information earlier than approving immigration to Canada.

The (*170*) had been half of a gaggle of 252 Afghan refugees welcomed to Canada by immigration minister Sean Fraser on Tuesday, and the primary admitted by way of the particular humanitarian program.

The day after their airplane touched down in Calgary, the chief of the group messaged Lee to inform him your complete group was now on Canadian soil and protected and nicely.

The group is now in isolation in a Calgary lodge and can journey to Edmonton after they emerge from quarantine, Lee mentioned.

Lee, who lives in Texas, is hoping to journey to Edmonton to meet members of the group when the pandemic wanes.

“I was so delighted personally when they arrived,” he mentioned. “Their lives and those of future generations will be changed forever.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Jan. 15, 2022.



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