According to the school districts where the children are enrolled, more than 30 California children remain stuck in Afghanistan; after visiting family, weeks before the Taliban seized power and were unable to leave before U.S. forces left.
Officials from three school districts — one in the San Diego region and two in Sacramento — said Wednesday that they have contacted the families who believe the US government has forgotten about them. Some of the children were born in the United States and are 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 nation on their own. They were not part of any tours.
Many of the families came to the United States years ago after getting special immigration visas for Afghans; who had worked for the US government or military in the previous two decades.
Some of the families informed school district authorities that they tried for two weeks to board planes at Kabul’s airport. But they were unable to do so due to Taliban checkpoints and the hordes of Afghans surrounding the airport. On Monday, the United States terminated its evacuation efforts and withdrew its forces.
California children stuck in Afghanistan
The San Juan Union School District in Sacramento announced that it had identified 27 pupils from 19 families enrolled in the district who had been unable to leave Afghanistan and return home.
“These numbers continue to change rapidly,” Raj Rai, a district spokeswoman said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “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.”
Rai said the district was operating with elected officials to help the families leave the country.
“San Juan Unified stands with our Afghan community and all those whose loved ones are currently in Afghanistan,” she said. “We sincerely hope for their speedy and safe return back to the U.S. and back to our school communities.”
“The only word I can say is heartbreaking,”
An Afghan immigrant family with three children enrolled at Ethel I. Baker Elementary in nearby Sacramento City Unified School District contacted the district to seek assistance in leaving the country, according to the district.
“The only word I can say is heartbreaking,” said district spokeswoman Tara Gallegos.
Eight families contacted their children’s schools in the Cajon Valley Union School District, a San Diego suburb with a substantial refugee population before classes resumed Aug. 17 to say that they were having problems leaving Afghanistan. Seven of the families have subsequently made it out of Afghanistan, thanks to Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California’s collaboration with the district and US federal officials. The majority of the pupils have likewise returned to El Cajon, and some have returned to school on Monday.
According to Howard Shen, a spokesman for the Cajon Valley Union School District, one family is still trapped in Afghanistan.
Officials from the district were also in contact with family members, he claimed, and were attempting to assist them in escaping.
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