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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

‘In one day, you lose everything’: Afghan interpreter on his family’s US visit, what’s next

“Abdul” was prepared to die for his service with the US military.

An interpreter who taught the U.S. in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous provinces. Having worked with the Marines for years, she requested a US visa last June as the Taliban spread widely across the country, telling ABC News’s Martha Raddz, “I know that killed me. The Taliban will go.”

“If they capture Kabul,” he said, “they will kill us.”

By August, when the US-backed government fell and the Taliban were running through the streets of the capital, he knew that his and his family’s lives were in imminent danger.

“If the Taliban captured me, I would proudly tell them that I was [an] interpreter and done [it] For my country and my people,” Abdul told ABC News on August 20 – just hours after Taliban fighters came to his home to find him.

Now, about 7,000 miles away at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a military facility in New Jersey, Abdul, his wife, Lima, and their three daughters are safe except for their feelings – eager to start a new life in a frightened Afghanistan. I have returned my loved ones, who are unsure of what will happen next.

“We fought for 15 years to make that life. But suddenly in just one day, you lose everything. It’s hard to bear. It’s so hard,” Abdul told Reddit in an emotional reunion.

Still, they are grateful, he said, knowing full well that they are among the lucky ones — five of the 75,000 Afghans who were evacuated and brought to America in President Joe Biden’s chaotic, unprecedented operation.

To date, about 48,000 of them have settled in communities across the country, while 26,000 remain at military bases in New Jersey, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, New Mexico and Virginia.

In all, the Biden administration expects to resettle 95,000 Afghans, several thousand of whom are still overseas at US bases in the Middle East and Europe.

It has made Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst home for Abdul and his family, and for the thousands of others who have passed away. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 100 children have been born on grounds, and many have been married.

“They are a very traumatized population. They have left behind a lot of loved ones,” said Colonel Suleiman Rachel, who served as the “governor” of the rehabilitation camp there.

Rachel herself, an Afghan refugee, said that “on a daily basis,” US service members, resettlement agency staff and volunteers help Afghans cope with the challenges of a new life and the “pain and horror stories” of families back in Afghanistan. Huh.

During a recent town hall at the base, an Afghan refugee showed a photo of his cousin on his phone and shared that he had been murdered by the Taliban two days earlier.

“I don’t have a good answer to this, and I don’t think anyone has anything to fix it,” said Brett Dreyer, a DHS official serving as deputy federal coordinator. “But these are things that happen all the time, and they really hit home and remind you why these people are here and why we need to help them.”

That work has turned the military base into a safe, but unfamiliar new home for Abdul and Lima’s daughters. Despite the danger, their youngest, just 6 years old, fled Afghanistan crying, “I love my lovely home, but I have to leave Afghanistan.”

“Don’t worry, everything will be fine because we have so many American friends. They’re going to save us,” Abdul said as he and Lima told him.

But it was Abdul and Lima who first saved their family.

Despite his years of service as an interpreter, Abdul struggled to secure a special immigrant visa granted to Afghans whose lives were at risk to work for US military and diplomatic missions. Years of bureaucratic red tape, arbitrary denials and slow running under former President Donald Trump resulted in a backlog and processing time of more than 18,000 applicants that spanned years.

“If you work one day for a coalition force, or you one day support coalition forces, they will kill you,” Abdul told Radatz when they first met in June.

At the time, the Taliban was spreading widely in Afghanistan’s northern provinces, when Biden announced that he would abide by Trump’s agreement with the militants and September 11 – 20 years after all of the attacks that brought US troops into Afghanistan. Withdraw American forces.

With the fall of Kabul in August, that threat of retaliation suddenly, apparently, became real. That same week, Taliban fighters approached the family in search of Abdul. His wife, Lima, “saved my life,” Abdul said – telling the gunmen that there were no men in the house as he had protected their three daughters.

“They left, and they told me we were coming back. At the time, I was really scared — and my concern was that they might harm my kids,” said Lima, a journalist.

With only two bags and about $100, they fled that night to a safe house in a village outside Kabul – mourning the lives they were forced to leave behind.

A few days later, with the help of ABC News, they return to Kabul in a secure hotel while awaiting that dangerous journey to Kabul airport.

On the night of 23 August, they passed through Taliban posts, staying for more than 60 minutes when sporadic bullets fired into the air, with Lima covering her youngest daughter’s ears. They passed through a crowd of desperate fellow civilians, many of whom would lose their lives three days later in a deadly ISIS attack on the same gate.

Both parents were gripped by fear, recalls Abdul, “I can risk my life, no problem. But I can’t risk the lives of my wife and my kids because around the airport Many people have been killed.”

But in those dark days, he had a ray of hope—about 7,000 miles away. When asked by ABC News’s Stephanie Ramos about Abdul’s case, Biden said, “We want you to be able to get to the airport. Contact us. We’ll see whatever we can do to get you there.” “

Abdul said, “I will never forget it because that night made all life. That’s why here we are.”

Once inside the walls, he made it on a flight to Doha, Qatar, spending two months there, where he was retested, vaccinated, and given the green light for rehabilitation.

On October 30, he was flown to Philadelphia and headed for McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, where he has now spent almost two more months—eager to make that final move in his new home.

“The patience is starting to wear off a bit,” Dreyer, a DHS official, said of the Afghans at the base, “but it is a process that takes time.” You know, we want to set them up for success. We just don’t want to have them nationwide without a support network, and that takes time.”

Until then, Abdul said, his daughters aren’t sure they’re actually in America—one told him recently that they’re actually in “a small village in Afghanistan,” he laughed.

But Abdul and Lima know how far they are. Lima said she thinks about “everyone” back home, but Afghan women in particular.

“There is no hope of a good future in Afghanistan, especially for women. Women can’t do anything there,” she said. In the future their three girls will be saved.

It is the future that propels them forward, he said, even in the toughest of days where the way forward is in doubt.

Through it all, Abdul said, he is “proud” of his service with the US military and is clearly angry at the Taliban for destroying his country.

“I want to be the voice of those who are still in Afghanistan and who have not been evacuated,” he said. “And I will fight against the Taliban again. … until the end of my life.”


World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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