Afghan man in Cork seeking reunification with loved ones after family members killed in attack in his home village

Afghan man in Cork seeking reunification with loved ones after family members killed in attack in his home village

Bilal Jalil from Afghanistan said he knew 18 people killed in a bomb attack in recent days. Picture Dan Linehan

An Afghan businessman in Cork City who lost his aunt and several cousins in a bomb attack in his home village in recent days is hoping other members of his family will be able to come to Ireland.

Bilal Jalil, who owns Cool Ireland on St Patrick’s Street, said he is extremely concerned about his remaining family in his home village near Kabul since the Taliban toppled the Afghan government in recent days.

His father is among his relatives in Afghanistan. He said he knew 18 people who were killed in the bomb which killed his aunt.

He said: “My country is at war, it is burning.”

He spent yesterday seeking advice from non-governmental organisations in relation to seeking reunification with family members currently in Afghanistan.

Taoiseach 'deeply concerned'

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he is deeply concerned about the Afghan situation.

He said that the pace of developments has taken many by surprise.

“I fully endorse the call from UN secretary general António Guterres for the Taliban to exercise the utmost restraint,” he said.

“Protecting lives, meeting humanitarian needs, and respecting people’s human rights are paramount. All parties, including the Taliban, are obliged to, and must, respect international humanitarian law.

“The international community must play its full part in providing humanitarian aid and facilitating refugees. Ireland will participate fully in these efforts. The Departments of Foreign Affairs, Justice, and Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth are coordinating our actions.”

Yesterday, foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said his department is working to help get “around 20 Irish citizens” out of Afghanistan.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said Ireland will accept at least 100-150 more refugees from Afghanistan but that he expects “a lot more” over the coming weeks and months. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said Ireland will accept at least 100-150 more refugees from Afghanistan but that he expects “a lot more” over the coming weeks and months. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The Fine Gael minister said his department has been helping Irish nationals evacuate on commercial flights, but they have been canceled.

There is now an effort to find alternative routes out for nationals and foreigners by working with other EU countries, the UK, and the US.

Mr Coveney said that Ireland has agreed to take another 100 to 150 refugees.

“I have agreed with Roderic O’Gorman that we would make available between 100 and 150 more places in terms of refugees and will be prioritising human rights organisations, media, women and girls obviously and other family members that are vulnerable,” he told RTÉ.

23 Irish nationals in Afghanistan 

“I think there are 23 Irish nationals in the country and we have been in contact with them all, either directly or through organisations they work for.

“Many of them work with NGOs like MSF or WFP (World Food Programme).

“Fifteen of them have told us that they want to leave. We’re co-ordinating that through the embassy in Abu Dhabi because we don’t have an embassy in Kabul.

“My responsibility is for those 23. Some of those are dual nationals but anyone that has an Irish passport or Irish connections, we will be staying very close to try and get them out in the days ahead assuming they want to leave.

“Some have expressed a preference to stay for now, because they’re working with humanitarian organisations and doing very important work that’s unfortunately become even more important now.

“We have already made decisions in relation to providing visa waivers for Afghans who’ve been trying to get out of Afghanistan for the last few days.

“We have already approved 45 visa waivers, some of those people are trying to get out and some are in Pakistan.” 

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