KABUL, Afghanistan (AFP) – Taliban officials in Afghanistan said on Saturday that they will begin issuing passports in Kabul, providing optimism to those who feel threatened by the Islamists’ authority.

Thousands of Afghans have sought for fresh travel papers in order to flee an escalating economic and humanitarian catastrophe characterised by the UN as a “avalanche of hunger.”

Authorities will begin issuing the documents at Kabul’s passport office on Sunday, according to Alam Gul Haqqani, the interior ministry’s chief of the passport department.

Following the Taliban’s return to power on August 15, tens of thousands of Afghans hurried to Kabul’s lone airport in the hopes of catching any international flight that may escape them.

Authorities restored the passport office in Kabul in October, only to shut it down days later due to a backlog of applications that led the biometric technology to fail.

“All of the technological concerns have now been rectified,” Haqqani said, adding that individuals who had previously filed for travel permits will be granted them first.

Beginning January 10, new applications will be accepted.

Many Afghans who wished to travel to Pakistan for medical treatment were denied entry due to a lack of legal passports.

“My mother has health concerns, and we needed to go to Pakistan a long time ago, but we couldn’t because the passport service was closed,” said Jamshid, who goes by one name like many Afghans.

“We’re thrilled today… we can receive our passports and go to Pakistan,” he remarked outside the passport office after the announcement on Saturday.

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