Afghan Woman in Limbo at Kabul Airport After Taliban Sweep | World News

By SAMYA KULLAB, Associated Press

With a whole lot of Afghans dashing the tarmac of Kabul’s worldwide airport determined to flee the return of the Taliban, a younger Afghan girl stood in limbo between two worlds.

In one world, Massouma Tajik would board a flight to a rustic she didn’t know, destined to develop into a refugee. In one other, she would keep in an Afghanistan underneath Taliban rule, pressured to wipe out the final 20 years of all that she had constructed and achieved.

Sleepless, hungry and scared she has been ready for hours at the airport for a flight she feared would by no means include questions she couldn’t reply.

“I am in the airport, waiting to get a flight but I don’t know to where,” she mentioned, talking to The Associated Press over the cellphone. “I am here, confused, hungry and hopeless. I don’t know what is coming my way. Where will I go? How will I spend my days? Who will support my family?”

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Tajik, a 22-year previous information analyst working for a U.S. contractor serving to Afghan companies, had gotten the decision on Sunday afternoon, informing her she had simply 10 minutes to go away for the airport. She had been placed on an evacuation record heading to the United States or Mexico — she was informed nothing extra. She didn’t have a visa in her passport.

She left a buddy’s condominium in Kabul with simply the garments on her again, a knapsack, laptop computer and her cellphone.

“My dreams and my plans, are all inside this small backpack,” she mentioned.

As the Taliban swept into Kabul on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation, bringing an finish to a two-decade marketing campaign in which the U.S. and its allies had tried to remodel Afghanistan, Tajik and a bunch of Afghans working for U.S. media have been rushed to town’s worldwide airport by their American pals.

The pace of the Afghan authorities’s collapse, the following chaos and the near-complete takeover of the nation — simply two weeks earlier than the ultimate pullout of the final U.S. and NATO troops — has shocked many in Afghanistan and past. For Afghan girls, it raised fears that every one they’d achieved in girls’s rights, the proper to go to high school and work, can be swiftly taken away.

On the way in which to the airport, Tajik regarded out the window, taking in the final glimpses of Kabul streets, “filled with a scary silence.”

There was barely time to name her household in the western province of Herat, seized by the Taliban final week in the insurgents relentless sweep. Before the autumn, Tajik had fled town of Herat, the provincial capital and her hometown, for the Afghan capital, “with hope that Kabul would resist.”

“But everything changed,” she mentioned. “Everything collapsed in front of my eyes.”

Her family did not object to her leaving even though at 22, she was their breadwinner. That role brought her respect and pride — something the Taliban could take away. She also knew that by staying, she would become a liability for her loved ones — a young woman, educated at an international university and working with foreigners.

“When I left Herat I thought I cannot leave my family like this, but staying there I become a risk for them,” she said. If the Taliban found out, she is convinced “they will hurt my family.”

Before leaving Herat, she destroyed all evidence linking her with international organizations, including newspaper clippings. Apart from working as a U.S. contractor, in July she was also featured in a prominent U.S. paper.

“I burned them, I buried them, and I left,” she said.

Once at the airport, she saw Afghans waiting desperately for a plane out, some breaking into tears. She was tired, she had not slept in three days. Rumors circulated that the planes may even be cancelled. Others asked why there was no security and who would protect them.

“The Taliban can come at any time,” she said, her voice faltering.

Six hours passed. She heard shots ring out from the outside — was it the Taliban?

From where she was, she could see a plane on the tarmac, but it wasn’t hers. A mad rush of men and women followed, people overtaking one another, desperate to get out. She watched from a cold steel bench, and for a moment, thought of the unknown that awaited her on the other side.

“I might end up on the other side of the world, in a refugee camp. I have no food, no money with me,” she mentioned. And she missed her household. “I am worried for their lives,” she said. “All these years of education and hard work, in the hope of making a better life and helping other Afghans ended up being for nothing.”

By midnight on Sunday, she considered giving up and taking a taxi again to Kabul. Herat was out of the query. She received up, however simply as rapidly modified her thoughts once more.

Sleep wouldn’t come. She mentioned looters have been inflicting havoc contained in the terminal. She left along with her journey companions to attend outdoors on the runway.

At dawn, 1000’s of Afghans had streamed into the airport. Tajik mentioned she noticed U.S. troopers hearth pictures in the air. Her flight would he right here quickly, she was informed.

Later on Monday, U.S. army officers mentioned the chaos at the Kabul airport had left seven folks useless, together with some who fell from a departing American army transport jet.

“I will never forgive the world for staying silent,” she mentioned. “I didn’t deserve this. No one deserves this.”

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