Malala Yousafzai hails rescue flight success as plane carrying dozens of Afghan woman including activists who worked alongside her plus an ex-Government minister and top anti-Taliban lawyer lands in Greece
- Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai praised a flight that helped Afghan refugees
- She said the rescue flight to Greece brought ‘hope and safety’ to people fleeing
- The Taliban hunts people who worked for the former government in Afghanistan
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said a flight that helped more than a hundred Afghans escape the Talbian brought ‘hope and safety’ to people.
The rescue flight departed Kabul at first light with 119 passengers on Monday and flew to Tbilisi, Georgia, in three hours, where passengers changed to another aircraft for a further three-hour flight to reach Greece.
Many had been in hiding from the Taliban regime, which had been searching house-to-house in an effort to seek retribution against those who worked for the former government.
Malala said: ‘Today’s arrival provides hope and safety for so many incredible, vulnerable Afghans, including women’s rights advocates, journalists and Malala Fund partners.
Malala Yousafzai at the gala performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cinderella’ in London today
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, with her husband Asser Malik (right), who she married this year. Malala said: ‘Today’s [flight] provides hope and safety for so many incredible, vulnerable Afghans, including women’s rights advocates, journalists and Malala Fund partners.
‘I’m grateful to Prime Minister Mitsotakis and the Government of Greece for their support.’
Faridoon Hazeen, a lawyer who prosecuted more than 2,000 Taliban detainees, was on board with his wife and four children.
He said: ‘We had to leave. The Taliban had been looking for us. They went to my apartment and broke everything.
‘They took my elder brother as hostage for eight days, then later they took my younger brother and father. My older brother was tortured and is still in a critical condition.
‘In helping with this flight the Greek Government has proved that humanity matters, and it is playing its role for the people who need help and support. For that, I’m truly grateful.’
Afghan refugees arrive at Thessaloniki International Airport Makedonia via Kabul today
Some of the refugees will remain in Greece for the foreseeable future and others are headed to third countries
An Afghan woman in a mask holds a boy as they sit inside a bus after their arrival at the airport of Thessaloniki, northern Greece
Other passengers included the former Minister of borders and tribal affairs Mohibullah Samim, a female judge, Afghan medical staff and a translator who previously worked with NATO forces.
Greece has helped evacuate 700 Afghan female politicians, artists, human rights defenders and their families on humanitarian grounds.
Amed Khan, who organised the flight, said: ‘The children, women, and men on this flight were being targeted by the Taliban, their lives were in immediate danger and so it was incredibly important that we were able to get them out quickly.
‘It’s a huge credit to the Greek Government that it has been so helpful in facilitating their journey to safety and offering vulnerable people sanctuary when they needed it most.’
A Greek government spokesman said: ‘These people’s lives were at risk and we acted decisively with our partners to bring them to safety in Greece.
‘We are working tirelessly to process all the applications Greece receives.’