Source: Saeed Ali Achakzai for Reuters
At 3:29 p.m. last Monday, the last US evacuation flight took off from Kabul Airport, signaling the end of America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan. At least 27 students are considered stranded in the country according to a school district in Sacramento County, California, after evacuation efforts being undertaken by the US government ended last Monday in the Taliban overtaken region. Based on the information released by the San Juan Unified School District, these students come from at least 19 families in total.
Raj Rai, the school district’s director of communications, released an official statement recently expressing the belief of members of the school district that these families may still be in transit out of Afghanistan as they have not reached them in the last couple of days.
The students and their families are in Afghanistan for personal reasons. Mostly, they go home to visit members of their family during the summer break.
“These numbers continue to change rapidly. 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,” Raj Rai shared in a statement. “We stand ready to support these students and families in whatever way that we can,” Rai added.
Unknown to many, the Sacramento metro area is home to one of the largest populations of Afghan immigrants in the country today. This is according to data derived from the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University. The school district officials revealed that they have been working closely with several congressional offices and state officials to coordinate help that will get these families back on US soil the soonest time possible.
Since August 13, over 122,000 people managed to evacuate from Afghanistan, 6,000 of which were American citizens. According to authorities, there are at least 100 to 200 Americans left in Afghanistan, and the Biden administration has made a commitment to finding ways to evacuate those who wish to come home.
Many of these families gained special immigrant visas upon arriving in the US some years ago after working for the US government or military for the past two decades. According to some school district officials, some of these families attempted to get on planes in Kabul but failed to do so due to several Taliban checkpoints along the way.
San Juan Unified deputy superintendent, Melissa Bassanelli, has opted to save seats for the 27 students currently stranded in Afghanistan, hoping that they will return soon and resume their schooling. The district is ready to extend all the assistance these students may need upon their return where it concerns their school-related tasks.
“We will continue to advocate for our community,” Bassanelli shared. “We celebrate our diverse community, and we stand with our Afghan families and advocate for their support.”
The district further revealed that they have a team ready to extend social and emotional help to the Afghan community should they arrive in the next few days. Help comes in the form of food and rent for refugees.