Evacuees waiting for charter flights out of an airport in northern Afghanistan are begging the Biden administration for help.
“Unfortunately we are left behind now,” an Afghan former translator for the U.S. military told the Associated Press. “No one heard our voice.” The AP did not reveal the translator’s identity over concerns for his safety.
The translator said he feared beheading at the hands of the Taliban He is running low on money to keep his family—himself, his wife, and eight children—at a hotel while waiting for the flights to leave. The flights were scheduled to take off from the city of Mazar-i-Sharif for Doha, Qatar, but have been delayed by the Taliban.
An Afghan woman employed by American NGO Ascend, which teaches Afghan girls leadership skills through mountaineering, said evacuees “think we are in some kind of jail” at their hotel. It was not clear if the woman was staying at the same hotel as the translator, however she said that Taliban fighters searched the men’s side of the hotel one night and apprehended some evacuees.
“I am scared if they split us and not let us leave,” the woman said. “If we can’t get out of here, something wrong will happen. And I am afraid of that.”
The charter flights out of Mazar-i-Sharif have been delayed for about a week, stranding U.S. citizens and green-hard holders as well as Afghans in the city. Two U.S. green-hard holders are among about 30 evacuees associated with Ascend, the organization’s executive director Marina LeGree told National Review on Sunday. LeGree said there were roughly 1,200 to 1,300 people attempting to board the flights, including 19 Americans that her group was aware of.
Taliban officials say they are attempting to process the documents of evacuees and that anyone with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave. The State Department is negotiating with the Taliban for the evacuees’ safe release.
“We’ve been able to identify a relatively small number of Americans who we believe are seeking to depart from Mazar-i-Sharif with their families,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Doha on Tuesday. “We have been assured, again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave.”