More than 30 California children still stuck in Afghanistan
More than 30 California children are stuck in Afghanistan after they travelled to the country to see their relatives weeks before the Taliban seized power and were unable to get out before US forces left, according to school districts where the kids are enrolled.
Officials from three school districts — one in San Diego and two in Sacramento — said Wednesday that they have been in touch with the families who believe the US government has forgotten about them. Some of the children were born in the United States and are US citizens, according to officials.
In the spring or early summer, nearly all of the children visited relatives in Afghanistan with one or both parents. The families went to the country on their own and were not part of any organized trips.
Many of the families came to the U.S. years ago after obtaining special immigrant visas for Afghans who had worked for the US government or military in the previous two decades.
Some of the families told school district officials that they had made attempts to get on planes at the airport in Kabul but were unable get through Taliban checkpoints or through the throngs of Afghans surrounding the airport over the past two weeks. The US ended its evacuation efforts and withdrew its forces on Monday.
In Sacramento, the San Juan Union School District said it had identified 27 students from 19 families enrolled in the district who said they have been unable to get out of Afghanistan and return home.
‘On their way out of Afghanistan’
In an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Raj Rai, a district spokeswoman, said, “These numbers continue to change rapidly.” “We suspect some of these families are on their way out of Afghanistan, as we haven’t been able to contact them in the last few days.”
Rai said that the district was working with elected officials to help the families in their exit from the nation.
“Our Afghan community and all those whose loved ones are currently in Afghanistan are supported by San Juan Unified,” she stated. “We wish them a swift and safe return to the United States and to our school communities.”
The nearby Sacramento City Unified School District said an Afghan immigrant family with three children enrolled at Ethel I. Baker Elementary had contacted the district to ask for help in getting out of the country.
“The only word I can say is heartbreaking,” said district spokeswoman Tara Gallegos.
In the Cajon Valley Union School District in a San Diego suburb with a large refugee population, eight families reached out to their children’s schools before classes started Aug. 17 to report that they were having trouble leaving Afghanistan.
Seven of the families have since made it out of Afghanistan, thanks to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California’s cooperation with the district and US government officials. The majority of the students have returned to their homes in El Cajon, while some have returned to class on Monday.
According to Howard Shen, a spokesman for the Cajon Valley Union School District, one family is still stuck in Afghanistan.
Officials from the district were in contact with family members, he claimed, and were trying to assist them in leaving.
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