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Cleveland residents hold rally supporting Afghan community

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Cleveland City Hall
Posted at 9:56 AM, Aug 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-21 21:30:12-04

CLEVELAND — Saturday afternoon, Cleveland residents held a rally to show support for local Afghans and to bring attention to the events unfolding in Afghanistan.

The Taliban took control of Kabul, the country's capital city, Sunday, triggering a mass exodus of citizens and foreigners alike.

“These days, people are dying, leaving their houses, running to the airport. So we're here to show and do our support and show our sympathies for these people whom are still there," said Mujeeb Wafa, who marched in the rally.

Saturday's rally was held from 2 to 4 p.m., starting at Masjid Mohammad Rasool Allah, 9400 Detroit Ave. From there, participants marched to Carl B. Stokes United States Courthouse.

Organizers said almost all of those marching have family members still living in Afghanistan, and they are worried about their safety and well-being under Taliban rule.

“Almost all of us have friends and family in Afghanistan. And we have been in touch with them, and they are telling us the horror stories which is happening right now there," said Noorulbari Mal, who marched in the rally.

"This morning, one of my nieces told me, 'My uncle, I’m sorry that we promised that we will become doctors, but we cannot be anymore because we are not allowed to go [to school]," said Wafa.

During the march, they demanded accountability from world leaders.

“Afghanistan had a political failure not a military failure, Afghanistan has a strong army, but it was the world [that] left us alone. No one looked at us when we were bleeding, no one really cared about us," said one marcher. “We need the world to watch this. It's happening in Afghanistan today, it could be happening somewhere else tomorrow. What are you going to do -- ignore it?"

They are also asking for transparency from the Taliban and peace for the Afghan people who are living in the country.

“The message is clear, we want rights for women. We want people go to school, and we want people to have a freedom. There is no freedom in Afghanistan," said Najib Mohammadi, who marched in the rally.

You can watch video from the rally in the player below:

Marchers said that evacuation of Afghan people will not solve the root of the problems in the country, though it will help some. They urged people to contribute to humanitarian organizations active in Afghanistan.

“I think people individually can help by donating to maybe charity organizations that are active in Afghanistan, working with those who are vulnerable like children and women, and we urge the international humanitarian aid organizations to not cut ties with Afghanistan," said Mal. “Now is the time that the Afghan people need them the most. Because the economy is going to be impacted very highly with the crisis going on right now, and it eventually is going to cause some poverty and starvation, and that's in turn going to lead into another humanitarian crisis."

RELATED: Resettlement organizations preparing for Afghan refugees coming to Cleveland

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