More than 30 California children, including a three-year-old, are stranded in Afghanistan, and school officials are pleading for their release.
According to their school districts, most of the kids, from infants to high schoolers, were in Afghanistan on summer break visiting family and were caught up in the chaos of the Taliban’s takeover of the nation.
Officials said a handful of kids from one district in the Sacramento region are still trapped, while another in El Cajon has yet to leave the war-torn country safely.
San Juan Unified School District officials informed the Sacramento Bee that the number of pupils remaining in the Taliban-controlled country had dropped dramatically from the initial 150.
Almost 10,000 Afghans live in the area, accounting for roughly one out of every nine Afghans in the United States.
Meanwhile, the Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon notified The San Diego Union-Tribune that three of its children remained trapped following the U.S. army pullout.
According to district spokesman Howard Shen, that number decreased when four families—seven adults and 14 children—returned to their homes in El Cajon safely. Three other families have also successfully exited Afghanistan and are returning home, according to Shen.
When trying to flee Afghanistan, the family of a three-year-old says the Taliban ambushed them.
The families were all visiting relatives during the summer holiday. But, according to the publication, they were caught off guard by the Taliban’s abrupt takeover and the turmoil it caused for those attempting to flee.
Shen told Fox News that the district has been “exploring alternate ways” to get the families out because “the airlift is no longer an avenue.”
Following allegations that passports and IDs have been burnt, district director Mike Serban cautioned that “it’s a larger picture than just our district,” making it impossible to determine whether Americans are still detained.
He said a family with a three-year-old child from Sacramento was among U.S. citizens attacked by Taliban enforcers as they attempted to catch planes from Kabul airport.
Veterans advocate James Brown told ABC7 that they were halted by a Taliban checkpoint and were physically beaten at the entrance.
He explained, “They were pushed back where they had to flee and return to a safe house.”
Brown was approached by an active duty Marine Corps officer who needed some assistance because he “basically felt like his hands were tied and he needed some help getting this family out.”
They called Rep. Jackie Speier’s office, which “made several phone calls to the White House, the Secretary of Defense’s Office, and the Secretary of State’s Office elevating this family’s case all the way to the top”—but to no avail, according to the report.
The child and his family are now “On the move … without the normal channels of the U.S. government” late Monday. No details on their whereabouts were available.
The allegations came amid near-Biblical images of a sea of people walking over parched territory in an attempt to reach the landlocked country’s borders with Iran, Pakistan, and Central Asian republics.
Now that the U.S.–led airlift has ended, tens of thousands of Afghans are at risk of being killed for resisting the Taliban and assisting the West.
Thousands waited for the border gates at Torkham, a key crossing with Pakistan just east of the Khyber Pass, to open, while others hoped for a safe refuge at the Islam Qala checkpoint on the Iranian border.
“I felt that being among Iranian security forces brought some kind of relaxation for Afghans as they entered Iran, compared with the past,” one Afghan who crossed through told Reuters.