Afghanistan is currently experiencing serious turmoil – political and natural. The most recent was a devastating 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the country’s eastern side last week, killing more than 1000 people and wounding at least 1500, according to reports.
There is no denying that this humanitarian disaster comes at a difficult time for the Taliban-ruled country, currently in the throes of hunger and economic crises.
Just days before that, Afghanistan was in the news due to a terrorist attack on the last remaining gurudwara, Karte Parwan gurudwara, in Kabul early Saturday (June 18) morning. Two people were killed and at least seven others injured in the attack.
Afghanistan was once home to tens of thousands of Sikhs and Hindus, but decades of conflict have seen the number dwindle to a tiny handful.
In recent years, those who have remained have been repeatedly targeted by the local branch of the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
In 2018, a suicide bomber struck a gathering in the eastern city of Jalalabad, whilst another gurdwara was attacked in 2020.
According to estimates, around 160 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus remain in Afghanistan now who want to be evacuated.
The Sikh community back in New Zealand is also showing all its support for those impacted.
A statement issued by its coordinators Daljit Singh and Prithipal Singh Basra says, “NZ Sikh Gurudwara Managements strongly condemn the recent attack on Gurdwara by ISIS which killed two and badly damaged the gurdwara building.”
It may be noted that the NZ Sikh community has been trying to help the Sikh community in Afghanistan for the past few years. According to Daljit Singh, who is also the spokesperson of the Supreme Sikh Society NZ (SSSNZ), the NZ Sikh community wrote to the immigration minister in 2020, 2021, and 2022 requesting INZ to allow them to sponsor ten families including Sikhs and Hindus who are in danger in Afghanistan in a refugee quota and to undertake their establishment in NZ.
“We are happy to provide them accommodation and arrange their jobs, so they are not a burden to taxpayers. The SSSNZ will take full responsibility for the costs of resettling these refugees. We would see urgent action on this as a sign of the good faith of the Labour government. Hopefully, we will soon have Cabinet approval to allow entry for the Afghan Sikh-Hindu refugees on an emergency basis." said Singh.
Interestingly, Supreme Sikh Society NZ’s legal counsel Matt Robson and Deborah Manning wrote to Associate Minister of Immigration Phil Twyford on Wednesday to intervene for the sake of humanity as this matter is quite severe. The copy of the same is with the Indian Weekender.
Lastly, Daljit Singh confirmed his support for those impacted by the earthquake. “The recent earthquake in Afghanistan has made it harder for those families already struggling to survive. We will do everything to assist them as soon they contact us," he said.