United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt hosted 15 female Afghan Members of Parliament, Judges and other civil society leaders, along with five Greek government officials, including Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis, at his residence in Athens on November 9.
The evacuees are in Greece at the invitation of the Greek government and are currently being hosted for indefinite amounts of time while their paperwork is being processed in other countries, including the United States and Canada.
Along with Minister Mitarachis, four Greek deputy ministers attended: Migration Deputy Minister Sophia Voultepsi, Education Deputy Minister Zetta Makri, Labor Deputy Minister Domna Michailidou and Labor Deputy Minister for Gender Issues Maria Syrengela. Nadina Christopoulou, head of the Athens-based Melissa Network, which supports the female Afghan Members of Parliament, also participated.
As women holding elected office in Afghanistan, they departed due to concerns about theirs and their family’s safety when the Taliban seized Kabul in August. More than 700 prominent Afghan evacuees and family members are currently in Greece.
Eight women and one man in this particular group hosted at the ambassador’s residence were amongst one of many rescue missions organized, funded, planned and facilitated by American philanthropist Amed Khan who has leveraged his resources and contacts in the region to save hundreds of people and bring them to Greece.
Khan, who is based in New York but has deep connections to Greece, is also the co-founder of the Thessaloniki-based Elpida Home, an organization that has provided support and services to thousands of refugee families since its founding in 2015.
Khan has personally spearheaded numerous missions from Afghanistan to Greece for Afghans fleeing the Taliban.
“Please do not forget the people of Afghanistan,” several of the evacuees implored while expressing their commitment to continue to fight for democracy and the rights of women and children in Afghanistan.
They said they wanted to help their family and constituents in Afghanistan and asked the Greek leaders and Ambassador Pyatt for support in raising their voices to the international community. Many evacuees expressed gratitude to the Greek government, non-governmental organizations and the Greek people for their hospitality as they determine their next steps.
Ambassador Pyatt, who also expressed his appreciation for the generosity shown by the Greek government in hosting the Afghans, told the group, “You have the support of the United States and we will hold the Taliban accountable. It is very powerful that as upholders of Afghan democracy, you are here in Athens, the birthplace of democracy. Greece demonstrates that history is not a prison. It emerged from World War II amid great poverty and social division and today is a modern, prosperous European democracy with women in positions of power, including of course the president of the republic. That should be a source of hope.”
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