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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Some who escaped Afghanistan now stuck in camps, waiting to reach intended countries

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TORONTO — In the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the situation for Afghans hoping to escape the country is still full of chaos, with some stranded at land borders and others having made it out to another country, only to get stalled again.

Technical teams from Qatar have landed on the tarmac in Kabul, negotiating just how to reopen the airport.

It’s key now, as tens of thousands continue to plead to escape the Taliban.

Camps at Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan continue to grow.

Military missions are grounded, but international rescue efforts continue, including one to evacuate Afghanistan’s national girls soccer. It’s called “Operation Soccer Balls.”

Five attempts have been made in the past few days.

But the captain of the Afghanistan’s women’s team, who lives in Toronto, says it is not time to give up hope.

“Are we just going to give up 20 minutes into the game just because we’re in one nothing down?” Farkhunda Muhta said. “Or are we going to keep pushing and pushing in order to make this happen? So similar to a soccer game, the mission’s not done yet.”

And for some who were trying to reach Canada, and have already flown out of Afghanistan, the harrowing journey is not over yet.

The interpreter who worked with Canadian soldier Captain Nicola Goddard when she was killed in a combat mission against the Taliban escaped Kabul last week. But not on a plane to Canada.

He says he is now stuck in an overcrowded camp in Germany, with little food for his children and no help from Canada.

He said his daughter asked him for food and he had to say, “I don’t have anything to give you.

“She was crying and I was crying at the same time,” he said. “This is a really bad situation.”

He says he has been trying desperately to reach Canadian officials to get a flight out.

And those who have landed on Canadian soil now face a series of new challenges.

Organizers who helped resettle Syrian refugees have now launched Lifeline Afghanistan to try and help Afghan refugees.

“We’re trying to find innovative models that will help link the newcomers with training opportunities, with employment opportunities, entrepreneurial opportunities right from day one,” Wendy Cukier, one of the founders, told CTV News. 

In a press release about the program, organizers pointed out that the focus has been on helping people get out of Afghanistan, but that there are few supports for those who make it here.

They hope to build awareness, curate resources for newcomers, find Canadians to engage in private sponsorship, and support trauma-informed approaches to training and skills development.

With files from Alexandra Mae Jones

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