At least $4.6 billion in cash, the equivalent of about a quarter of Afghanistan'sannual economic output, was carried out of the country on flights to Dubai andelsewhere in 2011, according to the central bank.The government believes that some of the money was diverted from foreignassistance or was the product of illicit drug deals.
It now limits to $20,000 the amount passengers can carry.But officials have also noted an increase in overseas bank transfers, said central bankGov. Noorullah Delawari.
No one knows how much more is leaving the country without being declared.
In one of Kabul's new shopping malls, Hajrat, who like many Afghans uses only onename, has been running a cosmetics store since high school. Now in his early 20s, hemakes enough money to pay for a car and expensive holidays in Dubai.He would seem to have every reason to stay. But he plans to invest his savings inanother country, one where he doesn't have to "worry about suicide attacks all the time."
As many as 40% of Afghan diplomats don't return from overseas postings,according to the parliament's Commission on International Affairs.
Students, athletes and others who travel in an official capacity have also failed to return.The number of Afghan asylum applications to 44 industrialized countries surpassed36,600 in 2012, according to provisional figures from the United Nations refugee agency,more than at any time since 2001.Many were trying to enter Europe, with Germany and Sweden among the most sought-after destinations. There were just 204 applications to the United States, which is muchfarther away and viewed as a more difficult place to obtain asylum.
Enterprising fraudsters sell fake letters purporting to contain threats from theTaliban to bolster asylum requests.
But many Afghans don't qualify for refugee status, said International Organization for Migration spokeswoman Aanchal Khurana. So they look for other ways out, both legaland illegal.Mohammad Nasir, a 25-year-old Kabul travel agent, fields frequent inquiries — 10 or 20a week — from would-be migrants.Most of those seeking Nasir's help are young men hoping for a ticket to a new life in theWest.Nasir said his agency won't do anything illegal, but can help clients obtain visas to Indiaand Pakistan, where they may hire smugglers to get them to Australia, usually viaMalaysia and Indonesia. Others, he said, fly to Turkey or Russia and try to sneak intothe European Union.