A father, a school director and an expat talk about the pain, despair and fear while still trying to get past the checkpoints at Kabul airport
Touching salvation and not being able to grasp it. This is what happened yesterday at the Kabul airport to Ahmed’s family. Despite having the right to access one of the evacuation flights to Europe, Ahmed, his wife and two children were unable to leave. And now they fear retaliation. To block them, the mob and violence of the Taliban. In a dramatic story sent to the CISDA (Italian Coordination for the Support of Afghan Women Onlus), Ahmed explains: «My wife, my children and I went to the Kabul airport in the early hours of the morning to be evacuated. We have gone through hell ». Around them, thousands of people waiting, held in the grip. “It was a nightmare. There were times when we were out of breath as people pushed and pulled. ‘ Many have been waiting for days outside the airport, with the aim of having access to the military part of the airport from which evacuation flights depart. “We tried to get close to the gate, but even moving an inch was difficult.” The biggest difficulty, to overcome the Taliban checkpoint. “My wife and our two children have had to witness the worst scenes of their lives. As a father, it was the hardest time, as I was doing my best to get them safely to the other side of the wall into a better future, but I witnessed their fear as we were mercilessly beaten. My children had never seen the Taliban, but now they have experienced their brutality. I felt helpless, because I couldn’t protect them while they were being beaten. I had to beg the Taliban to at least spare the children. The bullets were fired indiscriminately and anyone could have been hit. I couldn’t hold back the tears, because I never imagined that my children and my family would experience the humiliation that I experienced 25 years ago“. Ahmed’s wife, a law graduate and activist, was also beaten on the head. «She also felt humiliated in her soul. She told me she didn’t have the strength to stand up after seeing our baby pass out from fear. My daughter and son held my hands tightly. They were crying, telling me we were going to be killed and asking me to go home. ” Then the decision to give up and go back: «I thank those who tried to get us out of the country, but I think this is not the right way. At the airport we felt like we were thrown in front of the wolves. But we are human beings, no one should fight against others and trample on women and children ».
«Help me, I can’t go on. The Taliban won’t let us through ». Shir Ahmad Mohammadi, director of the school dedicated to the memory of Maria Grazia Cutuli, correspondent of Corriere della Sera killed in Afghanistan in 2001, arrived two days ago from Herat to Kabul with his family. With him, his wife and his two girls. “I served Afghan students by allowing them to study in the name of your country. Now it is time for me to think about my daughters and try to save them ». After hours of traveling by bus, Shir Ahmad Mohammadi and his family arrived in Kabul. A long and dangerous journey, undertaken with the awareness of not having much other choice. Then, the hardest part. Try to get as close as possible to the airport entrance, indicated by the Italian authorities, to access the evacuation flights. The Tuscania men are alerted, the ambassador Sandalli and the consul Claudi too. “Come and get us, we can’t get through.” Desperate messages from Shir Ahmad Mohammadi bounce on WhatsApp. The wife and daughters begin to feel bad from the crowds and the sun. But nothing to do, you do not pass. And no one can do anything for them. The streets of Kabul are now closed to foreign forces, closed inside the airport. “The Taliban won’t let us in, they ask for American documents that we don’t have.” Anxiety grows, rumors that evacuation flights are being suspended begin to chase each other. The Taliban are increasing pressure on Washington and its allies to prevent thousands and thousands of people from fleeing the country. But Shir Ahmad Mohammadi does not lose heart. Always polite and in impeccable English, he writes on WhatsApp even as the situation worsens. “I have two little girls with me, what should I do, I can’t let them be treated like this. I have to take care of their safety and their dignity. This is why I set out on a journey ». After dark, Shir Ahmad Mohammadi manages to find shelter. “But I don’t know how long we will be able to resist under these conditions. Both my wife and my daughters are more and more tried ”. The race against time continues. There is no other way, there are no other steps. Everyone has to go through that damned gate. The next day, the same die. Until the last glimmer of hope, perhaps there is another way and another way. But night has fallen again, we need to be safe again. “And tomorrow we’ll try again, please help us, help us get out of here.”
Having the right to leave the country like any other foreigner and risk not being able to do so due to one’s origins. This also happens. Sosan Enayatullha, double Irish and Afghan passport, arrives in Kabul for his brother’s wedding a few days before the fall of the country. Then, a phone call from Dublin: “Soon everyone run away, the television says that the Taliban are entering the city.” Sosan takes his family with him, including his brother and his young wife. He convinces them: we have to try, it’s our only chance. They all set out for the airport. They are afraid, you hear shooting. As they continue walking, they occasionally see someone running away in the opposite direction. Then, finally, the arrival at the Hamid Karzai, civil section. They try to buy a ticket but nothing to do, all seats are sold out or flights canceled. Furthermore, only Sosan has a passport that would allow her to leave the country without a visa. But in any case there is no hope. Commercial airlines are suspending all flights. Three days pass. The first, after seeing the US C-17 take off with people clinging to its wings, they return home desperate.
“My sister had fallen to the ground and was entirely covered in mud, we were literally shocked.” For a few hours the whole family is in shock. Then Sosan decides to try again. The whole family gets back on the road. Now the situation has changed: the airport is surrounded by Taliban checkpoints, which whip and beat anyone who tries to cross the gate. Inside, the foreign military. Sosan manages to overcome that human wall that piles up against the concrete blocks. He elbowed his way with his lungs in his throat. Show your passport to US soldiers. “Let her pass. He is Irish”. “No, her surname is Enayatullha, she is Afghan if she is not on the list she cannot pass.” Sosan is desperate, cries, screams with what little breath she has left. Eventually they let her in. But the rest of his family don’t, they all stay out. Not even time to say goodbye. Now that she is back in Dublin, Sosan is working to help everyone who stayed inside. And he puts pressure on the Irish government, which has so far saved 230 Afghans by giving interviews to TV and newspapers: «Obviously my priority is to get my family out. But I also think of all the others. I am lucky only because I have a passport from a foreign country. But this cannot be the difference between life and death, it is not fair ».
August 25, 2021 (change August 25, 2021 | 22:26)