When on August 30 the US Government reported that it was officially ending the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden pointed out that between 100 and 200 people, including citizens and residents of his country, remained on Afghan soil in voluntarily. Now many of them accuse their government of abandoning them. Meanwhile, those who do not have a US passport are experiencing the drama of trying to flee from the Taliban group on the land border with Pakistan.
Trapped in Afghanistan. Refugee groups cited by the newspaper ‘The New York Times’ point out that hundreds, and possibly thousands, of holders of Green Cards (permanent residence cards in the United States) have been left behind.
President Joe Biden said instead that it is between 100 and 200 people. But behind the numbers are the stories of families claiming to be afraid and accusing Washington of abandoning them.
Javed Habibi, an Afghan electrician who arrived in Richmond, Virginia, in 2015 on a special visa and later became a permanent resident, is among those affected. Habibi says that even in the last days of the chaotic evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, he received calls from the US government in which officials promised that they would remove both him and his wife from the country. and four daughters.
However, on August 30, his fear gripped him when the US authorities surprisingly ended the evacuations, a day earlier than planned. The last flights had already departed and the Taliban insurgents were celebrating with gunfire in the streets.
“They lied to us,” Habibi told the AP news agency, pointing to the Biden Administration. He had returned to his country on June 22 for a family visit, his return flight was scheduled for August 31 and he did not imagine that he would be trapped in the middle of the control of the Taliban group, whose members, according to several whistleblowers, have searched for a home. at home to people who had some relationship with the West in the 20 years of occupation.
Habibi also claimed that on at least two occasions he approached the door of the air terminal where his passport was scanned, but he was denied entry. Then, he yelled at the American soldiers, while waving his documents.
What does this Green Card mean? Any. They did nothing, ”he claimed. During his speeches in the final stage of the evacuations, the US president assured that anyone who had a US passport or documents that could prove their legal residence in the United States had the right to board the planes that took out thousands of people in the midst of the frenzy. .
“I’m just afraid. I follow the news.” Like him and his family, there are more people going through the same situation.
Another man of Afghan origin who asked to be identified only as Ajmal for fear of reprisals indicated that he, his two brothers and their respective families, 16 people in total, have immigrant visas.
Ajmal says he showed emails from the US government that said “please go to Hamid Karzai International Airport” and use the Camp Sullivan gate, not the civilian entrance, although he was also warned that the gate could change daily.
All these witnesses went to the airport, but the strong shots of the Taliban and the agglomeration of thousands of people prevented their passage. He assured that, on one occasion, he received an email informing him that he and his family would be picked up at a place near the airport at 3 a.m. They did so, they waited on the street until 9 a.m., but no one came for them, he said.
“I am frustrated and angry” with US officials. “All the time they say ‘we are working on that, we are working on that’, but then nothing,” reproached his brother Wais.
Meanwhile, ‘The New York Times’ released the situation of Samiullah Naderi, another permanent resident of the United States, who maintained that for more than a week he waited with his wife and son outside the airport in the Afghan capital with the hope of being allowed in to board one of the dozens of daily flights.
However, last Monday, after being told that no more people would be allowed inside the airport, Naderi and his family had to stay in Kabul with the uncertainty of whether they will be able to return to Philadelphia, where they reside.
“All flights are closed (…) I’m scared,” he says.
US vows to return for those trapped in Afghanistan
On Thursday, Victoria Nuland, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs, declared that all US citizens and legal permanent residents who were unable to obtain evacuation flights or were stranded had been contacted individually in the last 24 hours and had been He said to expect new information on exit routes once these have been organized.
“We will directly give them personalized instructions on what to do, when to do it, and how the US government believes we are best positioned to help them do that,” added State Department spokesman Ned Price.
It is still uncertain when the flights will resume, especially after the Taliban took over the airport as well. According to some government sources, there would be a negotiation with the leaders of the Islamist group to conclude the evacuations.
Senior officials from Qatar, a key country in supporting these operations, confirmed that it is not known when the airport will reopen.
The struggle to leave Afghanistan over the land border with Pakistan
If fleeing Afghanistan has so far been an odyssey for many of those residing in the West, for ordinary people without ties to the powers the mission is even more complex.
Shafiq Mohammad, 40, was on Thursday at a closed crosswalk on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. There he held a passport and identity cards, while imploring Pakistani officials to allow him and his family to pass.
“I don’t know (why they won’t let us in), we are also here to ask why they won’t let us (…) what is the procedure, how can we proceed,” pleaded Mohammad through a metal door, from the Afghan side of border.
The Torkham crossing, now manned on the Afghan side by the armed Taliban, has long been the busiest between the two countries, but has seen a sharp decline in the number of people allowed to cross since last month, due to the imposition of stricter controls.
With air traffic suspended, Torkham is one of Afghanistan’s few exit gates. Pakistani authorities maintain that for security reasons they are taking drastic measures that limit border movement, which went from an average of between 7,000 and 8,000 daily crossings in March and April to just 85 in August.
All this despite the fact that the United Nations called on neighboring nations to open their borders and allow those who desperately flee from the extremists on Afghan soil to pass through.
With AP, Reuters and local media