Afghan Filmmaker Sahraa Karimi Says She Has Been Evacuated From Kabul

Sahraa Karimi, the Afghan filmmaker who hit the headlines this week with her pleas to the international cinema community as the situation worsened in her home country, says she has managed to leave Kabul.

Chaotic and distressing scenes have been relayed from Kabul airport in the last few days after the Taliban swiftly took control of the capital city, prompting many to desperately look for an escape route to avoid persecution. Earlier today, U.S., UK and other troops moved to secure the airport and begin a more orderly evacuation, following videos that showed civilians clinging to aircraft as they took off from the tarmac.

The goal is to evacuate 1,000 people a day from Kabul, but western forces have acknowledged that the Taliban could potentially close the airport at any moment.

“My dear friends do not worry, I am fine and safe,” Karimi tweeted today. She followed up with another tweet in which she thanked Wanda Hrycova from the Slovak Film and TV Academy, the embassy of Slovakia in Iran, the Ukrainian government, and the Turkish government, for helping her to flee Kabul along with 11 other unnamed individuals. At the time of going to press it was not clear where Karimi had managed to reach, but other reports have noted that a Turkish Airlines flight managed to depart Kabul on Monday.

Despite the influence of western troops at Kabul airport, the situation remains challenging for those remaining in the city who are looking to flee, with only a small number of flights departing. Some of those looking to reach the airport said that they need to pass through a Taliban checkpoint before they reach the local authorities and western troops, which could be perilous.

Over the last 24 hours, UK student Miles Routledge hit the headlines having apparently traveled to Afghanistan on holiday before being caught up in the worsening situation. After documenting his ordeal on social media platform 4chan, Routledge said today he was now safe having been evacuated to Dubai by the British army. Many others remain behind. A Royal Marine veteran who founded an animal sanctuary in the country, Paul Pen Farthing, has urged the UK government for support in helping him and his staff escape Kabul.

For many of those ineligible for evacuation, the prospect of Taliban rule in Afghanistan is daunting, including for members of the filmmaking and artistic communities. “I and other filmmakers could be next on their hitlist,” Karimi had warned yesterday, adding that the Taliban would “ban all art”. Earlier today, Shahrbanoo Sadat, the Cannes award winning filmmaker of Wolf And Sheep, told THR that she was also trying to escape Kabul.

Other artists such as Omaid Sharifi, who runs the non-profit arts organization ArtLords, have expressed concerns about whether they will be able to continue working under the Taliban. The situation is particularly grave for women, who will be subject to the most restrictive rules under the new regime.

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