According to statements from school districts in Sacramento and San Diego, more than 30 children are trapped in Afghanistan following the U.S. pullout earlier this week.
While the exact number of students continues to change due to delays in Afghan-Americans returning to the United States and overall final chaos in the final days of the U.S. in Afghanistan, statements from the San Juan Unified School District (SJUSD) in Sacramento and the Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) in San Diego put the current number at 32 students, plus some family members.
29 of the students come from Sacramento, which hosts one of the largest Afghani communities in the country. Both the SJUSD and the office of Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) confirmed that number on Wednesday while also noting that many could possibly be on their way back.
“We can confirm that we currently have 29 students, from 19 families, in Afghanistan,” said District Director of Communications Raj Rai in a statement. We stand ready to support these students and families in whatever way that we can.”
“These numbers continue to change rapidly. We believe that some of these families may be in transit out of Afghanistan, as we have not been able to reach many of them in the last few days. We stand ready to support these students and families in whatever way that we can, and are working closely with state officials to provide them information as we receive it from our families.”
Congressman Bera’s office has been attempting to get more information on the situation of the Sacramento schoolchildren but noted that neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of State has any answers at this time.
“We are pushing the DOD and State Department for an update,” noted Bera’s office on Wednesday. “We have urgently flagged this with the Department of Defense and State Department.”
The other three children, currently stuck with their family in Afghanistan, had been the only one of eight families from the district not to make it out in time. As with Congressman Bera in Sacramento, Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50) is spearheading the effort to get them back in San Diego.
“While we have successfully helped dozens of stranded San Diegans, our work continues in order to bring the remaining families home,” Issa tweeted earlier this week. “The Americans we know stranded in Afghanistan didn’t want to stay behind. Biden left them behind.”
While we have successfully helped dozens of stranded San Diegans, our work continues in order to bring the remaining families home. https://t.co/X3UUQOiHo0
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) August 31, 2021
Over 30 children left behind
Afghan-Americans in both Sacramento and San Diego spoke up about the stranded children on Wednesday and Thursday, expressing outrage over how the U.S. could leave them behind.
“We should have done everything we could to have gotten them out, not let them stay behind to watch the last plane leave from the ground,” said Sayed Nuri, an Afghan-American currently in San Diego who immigrated following U.S. intervention in the early 2000’s, to the Globe on Thursday. “We’re angrier than most other Americans about this, because those 20 years now seemed like it was all for nothing. But not only that, we left children behind. Children.”
“Biden literally asked the nation a few days ago “What was the vital national interest keeping us there?”. You know what was? American children still there needing some way out. Even if it was for just another week. Let them get through and leave no one behind. It was the least he could have done after allowing the takeover to happen so quickly.”
“I had family that was brutalized by the Taliban before 2001. I can only imagine what can happen to them if they don’t get back.”
The U.S. presence helping stranded Americans, now based in Doha, Qatar, is currently continuing efforts to get remaining Americans and children who were over from the U.S. out of the country. Officials note that that hope restored air travel from Kabul will help them get out, but it is currently unknown when the airport there will resume commercial air service.
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