Kabul residents expressed their frustration with the sluggish passport distribution process, citing a lack of organization in the offline application procedure.
Many individuals seek passports as a means to escape unemployment, poverty, and educational limitations, particularly affecting women and girls.
The situation has driven some to brave cold nights, prioritizing passport acquisition as a way to seek employment opportunities abroad. Complaints about the disorganized and slow distribution process are widespread.
Jamshid, a Kabul resident, shared his experience, stating, “Obtaining a passport is a challenging ordeal. I’ve been waiting for thirteen to fourteen months without success. Now, the offline method has only exacerbated the overcrowding issue.”
Samir, another resident, echoed this sentiment, saying, “I’ve submitted my application in person. I urge the authorities to streamline the passport application process.”
Residents also point to the lack of educational opportunities and the daily struggle for survival in Afghanistan. They see obtaining a passport as a gateway to improved living conditions overseas. Mustafa emphasized that a brighter future in their homeland is possible with job opportunities, education, and gender equality. However, the current situation appears grim, leading many to contemplate leaving.
Mustafa stated, “A promising future for our compatriots at home is attainable with opportunities for work, education, thriving universities, and equal rights for women and men. Otherwise, everything seems bleak.”
Meanwhile, the 2024 Henley Passport Index ranks Afghanistan’s passport at the bottom of the list, placing it behind Syria, Iraq, and Pakistan. This highlights the challenges faced by citizens seeking passports despite their aspirations to leave the country.
Ahmad Rashad described the current process as daunting, especially for the younger generation, noting that even families struggling to meet basic needs are trying to secure passports for a chance to leave Afghanistan.
In response to the growing demand, Foreign Policy magazine reported in early April 2024 that three million Afghan passports are stored in a Lithuanian warehouse, with a delivery process underway in collaboration with the European Union delegation and the U.S. Department of State to address the situation.