The administration of US President Joe Biden is facing increasing pressure. There are reports that hundreds of people, including Americans, have been banned from flying out of an airport in northern Afghanistan for a week.
Marina LeGree, the founder and executive director of a small American NGO active in Afghanistan, said on Monday that about 600 to 1,300 people, including girls from her group, were in Mazar-e-Sari Waited a long time near the airport. For a week, in the chaos of the Taliban and American officials.
It is understood that this number includes 19 Americans, but no one belongs to LeGree’s team. She said those who were waiting were placed in various places in the city.
“Seven days have passed, and nothing has happened,” Legry told AFP, adding that six chartered planes were waiting at the airport to evacuate what some officials called “NGOs.”
“The Taliban won’t let anything happen at all.”
Her organization in Virginia trains the leadership of Afghan girls through sports activities such as mountain climbing. The organization is trying to evacuate a small group of girls and young women, between the ages of 16 and 23, and some family members.
All of them are of the Hazara ethnic group, an ethnic minority in Afghanistan who faced severe repression when the Taliban last controlled the country from 1996 to 2001.
She told ABC MSNBC on Monday that some of her teams were called to Kabul Airport last week. They were on the plane list but could not enter during the chaotic airlift in the United States.
Some of her teams are “very frustrated and confused as to why they are still sitting in Mazar-e-Sharif.”
“We don’t understand the overall situation, so I’m not sure if it’s purely for money, or what’s at stake here, but what we do know is that we have women in danger and they can’t go back. We have to go. .”
Legry, who has been working for aid groups and US agencies in Afghanistan since 2005, expressed disappointment with the State Department’s role in cleaning up flights.
Until a few days ago, the departure of this group seemed imminent, and the plan suddenly stopped.
A State Department spokesperson said on Monday that although the United States is committed to helping Americans and Afghans at risk leave, its resources in Afghanistan are severely limited.
“We have no ground personnel, we have no air assets in the country, and we do not control the airspace-either in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region,” the spokesperson told AFP.
“In view of these limitations, we also have no reliable way to confirm the basic details of the charter, including the people who may organize the charter, the number of American citizens and other priority groups on board, the accuracy of the remaining manifests, and where they plan to land. “
The spokesperson added: “We will let the Taliban keep their promise to let people leave Afghanistan freely.”
Satellite images from the airport on September 3 showed six aircraft, one on the runway and the others outside the terminal.
Biden’s Republican opposition took advantage of this situation, when his reputation plummeted due to concerns about the withdrawal of Afghanistan and the surge in COVID-19 cases in the middle of the year.
Michael McCall, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday that the Taliban are controlling the organization as part of high-pressure negotiations with Washington.
He said on Fox News that the matter “is evolving into a hostage situation, and they will not allow American citizens to leave until they are fully recognized by the United States.”
But LeGree said she would not describe the situation like this.
“No one is guarding the gate,” she said, although her worries have increased over time.
“If it is not resolved as soon as possible, we will worry about the personal safety of our girls,” she said.
On Monday, a small group of Afghan women marched through the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif, calling on the Taliban to respect their rights. “We can’t see the way back,” a banner read.
The Taliban have stated that women’s rights will be respected under Islamic law, but did not specify what this means. Some women in Kabul have returned home from get off work.
U.S. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal expressed impatience. “For several days, my staff and I have been focusing on getting these planes to take off… The delay is not only frustrating, but also unforgivable,” he said in a statement.
He added: “The State Department must now do everything it can to help these planes reach our air base in Doha safely and get permission to land there.”
Eric Montalvo, a former US Marine Corps officer and an attorney who works with groups that charter two of the six aircraft, is more straightforward.
“The Taliban did not take these planes hostage,” he said in a statement to AFP.
“The problem is with the US government. All the State Department has to do is make a phone call and these people can leave immediately.”
After the Taliban quickly took over Afghanistan at an alarming rate, after weeks of chaos, the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan on August 31.
In one of the largest such aerial operations in history, more than 120,000 people were flown out of Afghanistan, although US officials admitted that they had left hundreds of Americans and many vulnerable Afghans behind.
The Biden administration has repeatedly promised to do everything possible to help those who want to leave.
On Monday, the US State Department announced that four American citizens had been able to leave Afghanistan by road and arrived in an unnamed neighboring country without any resistance from the Taliban.
This is the first time since August 31 that the United States has officially admitted to leaving.