Stories of triumph and sorrow from nine women involved in the evacuation from Afghanistan

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In this case, even though they had passed through the Taliban and NATO checkpoints, we had to send someone out of the airport with photographs and other biometric information, for example, or a note. code, like Grasshopper, in order to sort them out among the crowd at the gates. Usually we’ve tried to group people together so that we move cohorts of about 100 people.

It all happened, and still happens so fast. Last week a friend of mine, a refugee himself, called me and told me he knew a widow in Afghanistan whose brother-in-law had joined the Taliban. She was afraid he would try to take her four children away from her. I called Safi Rauf at the Human First Coalition and within two hours they had sent someone to move her to a safe house. What is happening now is more difficult. She has no ID or passport. But at least she’s safe for now.

Now, we’re in a sort of extended phase two – figuring out how to get this woman out and help the people who have temporarily moved to another country. Currently, humanitarian parole applications are being approved at an unprecedented rate. When I was working with Afghan and Syrian refugees in Greece, it could take two years to get an application for humanitarian parole approved, even for very qualified applicants: children who needed medical procedures in other countries, for example. . Now the requests are returned in 10 to 12 days. At the same time, the costs are prohibitive for the average Afghan. My role has been to connect all the dots, to connect funds and resources to those who need them.

I am still evacuating one of my aunts (a doctor) and my cousin. Both are completely lonely single women. They were employed by the USIP, but evacuation efforts were blocked due to the chaos at Hamid Karzai International Airport. You almost fear doing more harm by seeming to have a clue of what might happen. At the same time, when something has seemed impossible over the past few weeks, someone has been trying to come up with another solution. In a way, there will be an answer.

We must recognize the remarkable courage of the women who remained. A few days ago, I received a call from the United Nations Population Fund, describing a handful of reproductive health workers who had remained in Kabul. They were UN employees and had the option to leave, but they had decided to stay – who else was going to do their job? – asaid to Chloe Schama

Kay McGowan: “About 120 people, including newborns, had to walk around the airport for days. “

Kay McGowan is the co-founder of Future state, a non-profit initiative of the United Nations Foundation. She was a Foreign Service Officer assigned to the United States Embassy in Kabul in 2003-2004. In 2005, his fiancée, who created the microfinance industry for the World Bank and the Afghan government, was killed in an attempted kidnapping. She also worked for the US Agency for International Development on Afghan politics and traveled there frequently between 2009 and 2015.


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