Thousands of Americans and Afghans who once worked for the US remain trapped in the country after the Biden administration’s troop pullout let the Taliban takeover Kabul in a matter of days.
The US has evacuated 7,000 from Kabul since the militant group seized control of Afghanistan five days ago, but there are still between 60,000 and 80,000 who need to get out — including more than 10,000 Americans.
Here are just a few of the scores of people who have been pleading for help to escape:
US citizen from New York
Nematy, a home health aide from New York, went to Afghanistan last month with her mom and daughter to visit her brother, who had just gotten engaged.
At the time, the situation seemed stable. Now, she’s been going back and forth to the Kabul airport in a desperate bid to get home to Schenectady.
“I myself am stuck here. I’m a US citizen, can’t even get out…,” Nematy told local station WRGB. “As I’m talking to you, my body is just shivering and it’s like I’m in a panic.”
M Haroon Zarify
Former Afghan translator for US and Colorado resident
Zarify, an Afghan translator and interpreter for the US since 2009, immigrated to Colorado through the Special Immigrant Visas program, local station 9NEWS reported.
His wife and their two children traveled to Afghanistan in June to visit and care for his sick father. They planned to return home to Denver later this month. But he’s been hopelessly trying to get himself and his family out since Kabul fell to the Taliban.
“I just want everyone to pray for us to get out of here soon. I want to take my family out of here, I don’t want them to go through all this, they don’t deserve this,” he told the outlet.
US citizen from Colorado
Kazemi, a 24-year-old University of Colorado graduate, is stranded in Afghanistan with her mother, her brother, Ali Kazemi told local station KRDO.
The mother and daughter, who live in Colorado Springs, traveled to Afghanistan in early August to visit family. They were supposed to come back in September, but now, their relatives in the US are at a loss for how to get them home — or keep them safe.
“The one thing I want is for them to get somewhere safe but there is nowhere to go,” Ali said.
The Lynchburg, Virginia resident took his wife and three kids, all under the age of 10, to Kabul to visit his sick mom last month, according to local outlets. It was his first time going back to Afghanistan in nearly five years.
Their flight home this week was canceled — and they are now trapped with no idea how to get home.
Hassanzada said he had a gun pointed at his chest when he ventured out to try and get to the US Embassy on Wednesday, WSLS 10 reported. Since then, he and his family have decided to stay put in his mom’s home.
“There is no government and that’s why people are scared … when people go out, they see the Taliban walking around, moving,” he told WSET. “It’s really hard to say about what they have on their mind, what’s their future plan, we don’t know and nobody knows about that.”
Former US Army translator living in Texas
The 44-year-old lived most of his life in Afghanistan and worked as a translator for the Army. In 2013, he was able to immigrate to the US through a Special Immigrant Visa and now lives in San Antonio, Texas with his family, The San Antonio Express-News reported.
Mohammad’s wife and their five children flew to Afghanistan to visit relatives in June and had a flight booked to return in September. Now, he is at a loss for how to get them home.
As of Wednesday afternoon, they were taking shelter in a family’s countryside home in the Khost province, which borders Pakistan southwest of Kabul, with no safe way out, the report said.
“To be honest, it’s hard to put into words how I feel right now,” Mohammad told the newspaper, wiping away tears.
Former US Army interpreter
Faqiry, a former top US combat interpreter stuck in Afghanistan, said been on the run ever since the Taliban took his hometown last week.
“I have become a strong enemy and a target of the Taliban,” he he told Rhode Island TV-station WJAR. “I fear for my life.”
He tried to get onto an evacuation flight out of Kabul — but said he was turned away by a US Marine at the Kabul airport.
“I talked to a Marine lieutenant and I told him I’m an interpreter, I’m an ally, I have worked soldier to soldier with you guys, and he said go back to your house and wait for the evacuation email,” Faqiry told the outlet.
He and others who aided American troops feel “betrayed” by the government for abandoning them, he said. “Many like me feel betrayed and left behind. If the United States wants to complete their mission in Afghanistan, please evacuate the allies, the Afghan allies, because everyone’s life is in danger.”
Former US military interpreter
Haji was a “combat interpreter” who lived and patrolled with the Marines and Army a decade ago, according to CNN, which only provided his first name.
He has repeatedly tried to relocate to the US though its special visa programs for interpreters, to no avail, the outlet reported.
For the last five years, Haji and his family have been in hiding, fearing retribution from the Taliban — and the situation is even more dire now that the extremists have taken over the country.
“If [the Taliban] find me, they will kill me and they will kill my family because I was an interpreter with the US Marines,” he told CNN.
Mohammad Khalid Wardak
Afghan police officer
The high-profile national police officer, who worked alongside American special forces and even once went on television to challenge the Taliban to a fight, has been in hiding since the militant group took over.
He and other current Afghan military members or police officers are not eligible to apply for special US visas, unlike translators or interpreters who worked with American forces. But he has applied for refugee status.
His friends in the US military told The Associated Press that they have been pleading with members of Congress, the Defense Department and the State Department to get Wardak, his wife and their four children out of Afghanistan.
“It is this nation’s duty to help those who helped us and were loyal to us and their country for so long and have nothing left,” said Army Special Forces Sgt. Major Chris Green.
Family of Qismat Amin
Former US Army interpreter who lives in Texas
While Amin was able to move to Dallas, Texas after earning a Special Immigrant Visa in 2017 for his work as a US military translator, his brother, who did the same job, wasn’t as lucky, Buzzfeed News reported. His application was denied, and he then reapplied.
Amin’s brother and the rest of his family are now stuck in the city of Jalalabad, where neighbors know of their work for the US government — potentially putting them in Taliban crosshairs.
“It is a nightmare. We are trying to figure out how to have my family survive, to not be tortured or beheaded. I can’t focus. I’m not hungry. I can’t work,” Amin told the website.
His brother, who requested anonymity, added: “This is a big risk for us.”
Family of Tahir Luddin
Former Afghan journalist and US citizen
Investigative journalist David Rohde described in “The New Yorker” his struggle to help save the family of Afghan reporter Tahir Luddin, who are stuck in Afghanistan.
Rohde and Luddin were captured by the Taliban in November 2008 outside Kabul — and were able to escape together after about seven months in captivity, fleeing to a military base while their guards slept.
Luddin eventually moved to the US, became a citizen and in 2017, brought his five eldest children to live with him in northern Virginia, Rhode wrote.
But Luddin has been unable to secure visas for his wife and remaining children, the youngest of whom is four. He doesn’t think they are safe in Kabul and doesn’t have hope the US will help get them out.
“I think the Americans are trying to leave Kabul and just take the diplomats,” Luddin said. “I’m strong, you know I am strong [but] I cried so many times. Everyone says we’re left behind. What shall we do?”
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