US residents in Afghanistan hiding out in fear of Taliban – Riverside, California

Riverside, California 2021-09-18 13:57:18 –

Let’s take a look at what the life of some families of permanent residents in the United States was like.

Every night in yet another home in the capital of Afghanistan, a couple with a US green card from California takes turns sleeping. One is always awake and watching over the three young children so that they can hear the Taliban’s footsteps and escape.

They travel seven times in two weeks and rely on their relatives to accept and feed them. Their days are an unpleasant combination of horror and boredom, limited to some rooms where they play “phone games” where they read, watch TV, and whisper secrets. Of keeping them quiet.

It all goes on during a painful wait waiting for a call from someone who can help them escape. US State Department officials contacted them a few days ago that they were assigned caseworkers, but they haven’t heard a single word since. They failed to board the plane and are currently in discussions with the International Relief Organization.

“We’re scared and keep hiding more and more,” the mother said in a text message to the Associated Press. “Whenever I feel out of breath, I pray.”

Through messages, emails, and telephone conversations with loved ones and rescue teams, AP summarized what the daily lives of those left behind after the chaotic withdrawal of the US military were. This includes US citizens and permanent residents of the United States. Green card holders and visa applicants who supported the US military during the 20-year war.

People contacted by the AP (not specified for their own safety) hide in their homes for weeks, turn off the lights at night, move around, and wear loose clothing and burqas. I explained the horrifying, secret existence. Avoid detection if they absolutely have to be adventurous.

They all say the Taliban are afraid to find them and put them in jail and kill them, probably because they are Americans or worked for the US government. And they are concerned that the Biden administration’s promised efforts to get rid of them are at a standstill.

When the phone rang in Kabul’s apartment a few weeks ago, the US Green Cardholder (a family truck driver who visited Texas) was the US State Department’s parents on his plane.

Instead, it was the Taliban.

“We won’t hurt you. See you. Nothing will happen,” said the caller, according to a truck driver brother who lived with him in Texas and later spoke to him. I did. The call contained some ominous words, “I know where you are.”

It was enough to send a man to escape from Kabul’s apartment where he was staying with his mother, his two teenage brothers and his father. He was particularly dangerous as he worked for years for a US contractor who oversees security guards.

“They are hopeless,” said the Texas brothers. “They think,’We’re stuck in an apartment and no one is here to help us.’ They were left behind.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress last week that the government has not tracked permanent residents of Afghanistan, but estimates that thousands remain in Afghanistan, along with about 100 US citizens. He promised that the US government was working to get rid of them.

As of Tuesday, 36 US citizens have been evacuated and 24 green cardholders have been evacuated since the U.S. military left last month, according to the State Department. More people flew out of Kabul on Friday, perhaps a plane from Mazar-i-Sharif, but the administration did not release numbers.

Neither the United States nor the Taliban clearly explain why so few people have evacuated.

It’s hardly encouraged by another green cardholder from his grandmother, Texas, who recently saw from the rooftop that a militant was pulled by a half-dozen police car and humvee to hijack a house across the street. ..

“Taliban. Taliban,” she whispered over the phone to her American son in the suburbs of Dallas, having a conversation the woman told AP. “Women and children are screaming. They are dragging men into the car.”

She and her husband, who came to Kabul to visit their relatives a few months ago, returned to Texas, where the Taliban not only revealed their American ties, but also worked for a U.S. military contractor for many years. I am afraid to reveal the bond between their sons.

Her son, also undesignated, called several times before Kabul was closed, said he had filled out all the necessary documents and with the help of a group of veterans and members of parliament. say.

He doesn’t know what he can do anymore.

“What if they knock on the door?” The 57-year-old mother asked on one of her daily calls. “What should I do?”

“Nothing will happen,” the son replied.

In a recent interview, he was asked if he believed he had counterattacked with resentment, “What else should I say to her?”

The Taliban government has allowed Americans and Afghans with proper travel documents to leave the country and has promised no retaliation against those who helped the United States. But UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said there was evidence that they weren’t keeping their promises. She warned the country of entering a “new and dangerous stage” on Monday, retaliating and killing members of the Afghan army and house-to-house hunting for former Taliban government officials and those who cooperated with the U.S. military. A US company quoting a credible report of the allegation.

AP reporters in Afghanistan are unaware of US citizens and green card holders arrested or arrested by the Taliban. However, they confirmed that some Afghans who had worked in the former government and military were recently taken for interrogation and released.

A California family, including a 9-year-old girl and two boys aged 8 and 6, said they had fled for the past two weeks after the Taliban knocked on the door of a relative’s apartment and asked about an American stay. More and more there.

The family moved to Sacramento four years ago after the mother obtained a special immigrant visa as her mother engaged in a US-funded project in Kabul to promote women’s rights. Now the mother says that both her and her daughter are wearing burqa every time they move to the next “prison house”.

His father, who worked as an Uber driver, had a panic attack while waiting for help.

“We haven’t seen the US government intervene immediately and kick them out,” said Nate Magill, the principal of a children’s elementary school who exchanges daily texts with his family.

Distractions have become a reliable tool for mothers to protect their children from stress. She quizzes them about what they want to do when they return to California and what they want to be when they grow up.

Their daughter wants to be a doctor someday, but her sons want to be a teacher.

But the distraction is not always enough. After her relatives told her daughter that the Taliban had taken the little girl away, she hid in the room and refused to leave until she laughed, saying that her father could inflate herself and defeat the Taliban.

The mother smiled and hid her fear from her daughter, but later sent a text message to the principal.

“This life is almost half dead.”

Condon reported from New York and Watson from San Diego. Kabul’s Kathy Gannon and Washington’s Ellen Nickmeier contributed to this report.

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