Possibly Thousands Of American Students Are Still Trapped In Afghanistan
Officials in California who helped rescue El Cajon-area students stranded in Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrew all military troops, said there could “easily” be thousands more who were left behind.
The Cajon Valley Union School District and Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s office have had conversations with their contacts in Afghanistan, officials and families estimate there are currently more than 1,000 U.S. students and children of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders are still stuck in the country.
“There are easily a thousand more students – American born or children of SIVs – still trapped in Afghanistan,” Cajon Valley spokesperson Howard Shen said during a Thursday press conference, and then commending the “bravery and courage” of Issa’s team and Cajon Valley Community Liaisons Fraidoon and Mohammad, “who stayed in contact with” families abroad “while they waited for extraction.”
During the conference, Issa said there are “thousands” or even “tens of thousands” of people still “languishing in Afghanistan” or “neighboring countries waiting to come” to the U.S.
“Yes there has been some success, and we’re delighted to have these kids back in school and their parents united,” Issa said. “but we also know that there’s a lot more work to do and that working through official channels and with foreign countries and with unofficial channels is going to take a lot of work.”
He went on to say that he is working on legislation “to make room for so many who helped his office and would otherwise take years to get resettled.”
On August 24 The Los Angeles Times reported that eight families from the Cajon Valley Union School District, were trapped in Afghanistan after President Biden announced that he would stick to his Aug 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
On Monday, Shen confirmed that seven or eight families had returned to San Diego or were in transit. One family is still in Afghanistan trying to find help. Some of the students that were rescued returned to school Monday after the long journey home.
El Cajon has a large refugee population, the families traveled separately to Afghanistan in May and June just weeks before the crisis began.
A father, identified only as Mr Faiziz, spoke during the conference and said that when he and his family tried to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban questioned why he wanted to leave and he responded by saying that the U.S was his home.
One Cajon Valley community liaison described the thousands of people still trapped in Afghanistan as “invisible families” who desperately need help getting out.
Pentagon Press Secretary John F Kirby said Friday that the U.S. will continue working to get those people who were left behind in Afghanistan out of the country.
“We don’t believe the effort is concluded,” Kirby said, adding that even though the military mission in Afghanistan had concluded, the U.S. government will continue to find diplomatic ways to get the remaining Americans and Afghan allies out of the country.
“We’re all heartbroken that we weren’t able to get every single person out,” the DoD spokesman said.