By RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service
BISHKEK — The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has appealed to authorities in neighboring Tajikistan to facilitate the passage to their common border of hundreds of ethnic Kyrgyz who fled Afghanistan amid a major Taliban surge that is raising security concerns in neighboring former Soviet republics.
The ministry also said on July 15 that it had turned to the United Nations for assistance in bringing to Kyrgyzstan ethnic Kyrgyz who entered Tajikistan from Afghanistan — many with livestock — on July 13-14.
According to the ministry, 91 Kyrgyz men, 77 women, and 177 children from the village of Andemin in Afghanistan’s Vakhon district in the Badakhshan region are currently in Tajikistan and require assistance to reach Kyrgyzstan.
While fleeing Afghanistan, the ministry said, two Kyrgyz children had died of unknown causes.
Semi-nomadic Kyrgyz have lived on the Afghan side of the Pamir Mountains since the 16th century. The number of ethnic Kyrgyz living in Afghanistan is believed to be just over 1,000.
In recent days, hundreds of Afghans, including soldiers and local police, have reportedly fled into neighboring Central Asia countries.
U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan will be completed by early September. With that deadline nearing, the Taliban have unleashed an offensive and now control about one-third of the country’s 421 districts and district centers in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, U.S. forces vacated their largest base in Afghanistan at Bagram, north of Kabul.
The rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces, and Taliban battlefield successes, are stoking concerns that the Western-backed government in Kabul may collapse.