SHENGJIN, Albania — The medical student, in a trauma-induced trance after a week under Taliban rule and three days of terror waiting for a flight out of Kabul’s airport, looked out the window on her first day at her new home and saw the Statue of Liberty.
“I thought for a moment that perhaps I was in New York,” said Tahera, a 21-year-old student. But the statue, made of plaster instead of copper and located in northern Albania, a fiercely pro-American country, was “much shorter than the real one,” she added, summoning up a wry sense of humor despite her harrowing ordeal.
The statue was an unintentionally taunting decoration, a kitschy flourish on the grounds of an Albanian beach resort housing more than 440 Afghans who fled Kabul after the city fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15.
Before being flown last week to Albania, a country she had never heard of, Tahera had hoped to escape to the United States or Britain, where she has an uncle. (The New York Times is using only Tahera’s first name to protect her family still in Afghanistan.) But with those countries and other wealthy nations wary of taking in refugees, she has found shelter in what is perhaps the world’s strangest and most luxurious refugee camp.
Albania, one of Europe’s poorest nations, has committed to taking in up to 4,000 refugees from Afghanistan, more than any other country. The 677 who have arrived, including about 250 children, are being housed in resorts along the Adriatic coast, a practice based on an emergency-response approach that Albania developed after a devastating earthquake in 2019, when people left homeless were put up
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