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Kabul Passport Office halts passport issuing after technical meltdown

AT News

KABUL: In a technical meltdown, Kabul Passport Office has stopped its activities after biometric devices stopped working, as thousands rush every day to the highly-fortified department for their passports, the head of the office said Tuesday.

An uncertain future, an economic collapse, and a humanitarian crisis have triggered an exodus with thousands fleeing the country since the Taliban takeover.

Alam Gul Haqqani, director of the passport department, said as many as 15,000-20,000 people a day were camped outside the office in Kabul, five or six times more than the office was able to handle, with many sleeping on the pavement overnight.

Many were forced to come back day after day after failing to file their application and the biometric machines regularly broke down as they processed the documents, causing further delays, he said.

“To stop people suffering this and to avoid disturbance, we have decided to stop the activities of the passport department activities for a few days,” he told Tolo News television on Monday night, adding that the office would re-open soon.

The interior ministry said on Tuesday that 60 people, including a number of members of the passport department, had been arrested for using forged or fake documents to obtain a passport. There have also been growing complaints of people being forced to pay bribes to officials to get their applications approved.

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