3 California family leaves Afghanistan for safety


El Cajon, CA — Three families on the outskirts of San Diego went to Afghanistan to visit their relatives earlier this summer and left Afghanistan after being stuck in the turmoil after the Taliban hijacking, officials said Thursday. ..

The other five families in El Cajon are still trying to escape, and US government officials are working with California Republican Rep. Darrell Isa on a safe return. The suburbs east of San Diego have a large refugee population. Many of the families went to Afghanistan in May and early June, weeks before the crisis, allowing children to meet their grandparents and other relatives.

Authorities initially stated that six families from El Cahon were trapped there, but later learned that there were a total of eight families from cities leaving the country.

“We have more work to do in very difficult situations,” Issa said in a statement.

Afghanistan grounding
Hundreds of people will gather near the US Air Force’s C-17 transport plane near the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021. (ShekibRahmani / AP Photo)

Fraidoon Hashemi of Afghanistan, who works as a community liaison in the Cajon Valley Union School District, said he is in contact with his family and is waiting for contact from the remaining people on Thursday. Every family has children who attend different schools in the district.

He said he was worried because of the news that two suicide bombers and shooters attacked a crowd of Afghans flocking to Kabul’s airport on Thursday.

“We want them to get in touch with us right away,” he said.

District spokesman Howard Shen said a family with five children arrived in San Diego on Wednesday night. The other two families were away from Afghanistan, but Shen said she couldn’t tell exactly where they were, only that they were safe.

“That’s all we want,” he said.

Counseling was provided to families and children’s schools.

Hashemi said the family returning to San Diego was still upset after the tragic experience.

“They’re okay now,” he said. “They need to calm down and forget what they saw.”

Elkahon’s family includes a total of 20 children, some of whom have recently witnessed shootings and other violence in and around Kabul Airport, Hashemi said.

The families traveled to Afghanistan on their own on different days and were not part of an organized trip.

The family turned to US authorities after being blocked by a herd of Afghans at an airport desperately trying to flee after the rapid collapse of the government and the withdrawal of US troops.

The school district became aware of the problem after a relative of a family said that the start of the school year starting August 17 would be delayed.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that as many as 1,500 Americans could be waiting to evacuate Afghanistan. It was unclear if it included the entire Elkahon family. Some are US citizens. Others live in the United States.

Despite travel warnings from the U.S. government, Hashemi said many felt the urgency to go to the country after many could not see their extended family due to a travel ban due to a coronavirus pandemic. I did.

Officials said most of Elkahon’s family came to the United States on special immigrant visas after working for the US government or military in Afghanistan. Visas are only granted to you and your spouse and children.

Coach David Miyashiro said his family was particularly scared as the deadline for the United States to complete its withdrawal on August 31 was approaching.

Miyagi said details could not be provided as the children and their parents may be at risk.

Julie Watson

Associated Press