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Fearful Americans in Afghanistan flee Taliban

A couple with U.S. green cards from California sleeps in a different house every night in Kabul's capital. One of them is always awake to look after their children and let them know if the Taliban are coming.

- 437 reads.

Fearful Americans in Afghanistan flee Taliban

In just two weeks, they have moved seven times and depended on their relatives for food and shelter. They live in fear and boredom all day, and are restricted to just a few rooms. There they can read, watch TV, and play "The Telephone Game", where they share secrets with their friends. This is a distraction for the children and keeps them quiet.

It all happens while they wait in agony for someone to call them and help them escape. They were contacted by a U.S. State Department official several days ago to inform them that they had been assigned a case worker. However, they have not heard from anyone since. After trying unsuccessfully to board a flight, they now speak to an international rescue organisation.

In a text message to The Associated Press, the mother stated that "We are afraid and keep hiding ourselves more," "Whenever we feel weak, I pray."

AP has compiled a list of messages, emails, and phone conversations with loved one and rescue groups that shows what daily life was like for those who were left behind following the U.S. military’s chaotic withdrawal. This includes U.S. citizens, permanent U.S. residents green-card holders, and visa applicants who aided U.S. soldiers during the 20-year conflict.

Those contacted for safety by AP described a fearful and furtive existence. They hid in their houses for weeks and moved around a lot, wearing baggy clothes and burqas to hide from detection if they had to venture outside.

They are all afraid that the Taliban will find them and throw them in jail. They are also concerned about the fact that Biden's promises to free them have failed.

The U.S. green-card holder in Kabul answered the phone when a truck driver from Texas called. He was hoping it was the U.S. State Department responding to his pleas for his parents and him to fly out.

It was actually the Taliban.

"We won't hurt your feelings. Let's get together. According to the truck driver's brother who lives in Texas with him, nothing will happen," the caller stated. A few dark words were spoken in the call: "We know exactly where you are."

This was enough to drive the man from Kabul, where he was staying with his mother, two of his teenage brothers, and his father. He was particularly at risk because he worked as a U.S. contractor supervising security guards for many years.

The brother in Texas said, "They are hopeless." "They believe that they are stuck in their apartment and no one can help them."

The U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken stated to Congress that while the government doesn't track U.S. permanent resident with green cards in Afghanistan, he believes several thousand are still in the country. He also said that about 100 U.S citizens remain. He assured Congress that the U.S. government would work to get them out.

According to the State Department, at least 64 Americans and 31 holders of green cards had been evacuated since last month's U.S. military withdrawal. The administration didn't release any figures but it is possible that more people were aboard the flight from Mazar-e-Sharif.

The Taliban and the U.S. have not provided any clear explanations for why so many people have been evacuated.

This is not encouraging for another Texas green card holder, a grandmother who watched from a roof as militants pulled up in half-dozen Humvees and police cars to seize control of the house across the street.

"The Taliban. She whispered "The Taliban" into her phone to her American son. The conversation was recorded by the woman and relayed to the AP. "The children and women are screaming. They are dragging the men to their cars.

They were visiting relatives in Kabul when her husband arrived. Now, they fear that the Taliban will uncover not only their American ties, but also those of their son from Texas. He had been a U.S. military contractor for many years.

Her son, who is not being identified, said he called U.S. Embassy officials in Kabul multiple times before the shutdown, filled out all paperwork and even enlisted help from a veterans group and members Congress.

He doesn't know how much more he can do.

On one of her daily calls, the 57-year old mother asked, "What will they do if they knock at the door?" "What will they do?"

The son replied, "Nothing is going be happening."

When asked if he believed it, his son exasperatedly replied, "What else can I tell her?"

The Taliban government has pledged to allow Americans and Afghans to leave Afghanistan with valid travel documents and not to retaliate against anyone who helped the United States. Michelle Bachelet, U.N. human right chief, said that there are signs they aren't keeping their word. She warned Monday of a dangerous new phase in Afghanistan and mentioned credible reports of Afghan military personnel being killed in reprisal. Also, the Taliban allegedly hunting former officials of government and those who have cooperated with the U.S military and U.S companies house to house.

AP journalists in Afghanistan have not heard of any U.S. citizens, green card holders or citizens being taken into custody or arrested by Taliban. They have confirmed that several Afghans working for the military and previous government were recently taken into question and released.

California's family of nine-year-old girls and two boys aged 8 and 6 tells how they have been on the run since the Taliban knocked at their relative's door asking about Americans who were staying there.

After the mother was granted a special immigrant visa, her family moved to Sacramento four year ago. She had worked in Kabul for U.S.-funded projects that promoted women's rights. The mother claims that her daughter and she have worn burqas every time they moved to their next "prison home."

As they wait for help, the father, an Uber driver, is suffering panic attacks.

"I don’t see the U.S. government getting them out anytime soon," Nate McGill, the elementary school principal, said. He has been exchanging daily text messages with the family.

The mother has made distraction her go-to method to protect her children from stress. She asks her children what they would like to do when they return to California, and what they'd like to be when they are older.

Their daughter wants to be a doctor, and their sons want to be teachers.

Distraction isn't always enough. The daughter hid in a bedroom after a relative informed her that the Taliban were taking small girls away. Her dad then puffed himself up and claimed he could defeat the Taliban, making her giggle.

The mother smiled and tried to hide her fear from her daughter. She later texted her principal.

"This life is nearly half-death."

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