Salma Kazemi, one of the thousands of Americans stranded in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over and the U.S. Embassy closed, has successfully been evacuated.
Traveling to Afghanistan to visit family this month before the attack, Kazemi, a 24-year-old University of Colorado graduate, took the trip with her mother before being stranded at the airport with no way out. They were planning on coming back home to the United States in September, but the Taliban takeover drastically changed their plans.
After KRDO reported that the two Colorado Springs women were stranded, Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn’s office reached out to offer any assistance that they could to bring the girls home. “Our heart goes out to them,” Congressman Doug Lamborn told KRDO on Tuesday.
Lamborn contacted the U.S. State Department on the family’s behalf, stating that “they can get on a list for the upcoming chartered flights.”
“Hopefully, they can be repatriated and we’ll work with them each step of the way,” Lamborn said. “We have experienced and trained people who are helping those who have been stranded overseas in any country, but especially right now in Afghanistan.”
There is no information available as to how long it will take to get Salma Kazemi and her mother home safe, but the two have reportedly evacuated Afghanistan and are at a safe location in Qatar, according to Fox News. They are expected to return home soon to Colorado Springs, Co., KRDO reports.
“Salma Kazemi and her mother have left Afghanistan on a plane,” a staff member who works for Representative Lamborn revealed. “They are not back in the U.S. but in a safe place. The family does not want to make a comment at this time.”
It’s especially dangerous at this time for women in Afghanistan, as many are worried about how the new Taliban government’s laws could take away some of their hard-fought rights. 20 years ago, when the Taliban last held power, it was illegal for women to attend school.
“It is a humanitarian and strategic and security crisis that is unfolding,” Lamborn said. “It’s very regrettable, and I think we can do better as a nation.”
Speaking to the nation on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged that the efforts to evacuate have been slower than anticipated, saying that “we’re not close to where we want to be in terms of getting the numbers through.”
Taliban checkpoints, which set up around Kabul immediately after taking over the president’s security forces, have made leaving the country even more difficult, as the U.S. has had to issue some citizens visas for safer, faster travel.
The U.S. plans to have over 6,000 troops on the ground at Kabul International Airport to help with evacuations, but the majority of the troops will be spending their efforts defending the facility and keeping it running. It is a much more difficult task to find and retrieve stranded Americans hiding from the Taliban.
Inside the Kabul International Airport on Monday, check-in security reportedly completely collapsed and Afghan citizens were climbing over one another just to get inside the airplane.
A cargo plane carrying over 600 Afghan citizens hoping to flee the country went viral, as a photo depicting the hundreds of people stuffed into the aircraft was shared on Twitter.
The United States has helped over 7,000 people flee the country, but there are reportedly around 60,000 to 80,000 people still waiting to leave, more than 10,000 of which are Americans.