Afghans in Utah worry about family members’ survival

Local News

SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4) – Afghans in Utah say they are facing the harsh reality of American decisions. It took a little more than a week for the Taliban to seize control of Afghanistan. Many Utahns who aided the American military as interpreters in the country are concerned their families may not survive the week.

“There is a lot of problems, a lot of bad situations going on,” says one man who didn’t want to be identified because of Taliban retaliation. “Everybody lost a big hope. My heart is crying for everyone, not only my family.”

The interpreter says Monday may be one of his saddest days.

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Person second from left is a former bodyguard for Ghani. (AP Photo/Zabi Karimi)

“When I saw the Taliban inside the presidency, the tears come. I couldn’t control my emotions. Because of my wife, she is concerned about her sisters. I went, and I cry under the blanket, and I cry for those ladies, for those girls, for my sisters, that now they lost hope,” he adds.

“We lost hope of democracy, human rights, you know economic development, social development in Afghanistan,” says Shabir Baher.

Baher also stays up at night worrying about his family, and with good reason.

A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

“My bother says, ‘I am hopeless, and I am helpless. I don’t know if I will be alive tomorrow or not,'” he tells us. “I just received a text message from my friend in Afghanistan that the Taliban is going door to door and is finding those people who work for Afghanistan government and the United States Army or government, and they are trying to capture those people.”

The emotions came back while Baher watched President Biden speak about the chaos in Afghanistan.

ABC4’s Jason Nguyen and Shabir Baher watching President Biden speak on Afghanistan

“It’s rough to listen about Afghanistan,” he says. “For those who fought in terms of media, in terms of education, and in the ground fighting face to face with the terrorism, the Taliban, and I feel for their future. I know what is going to happen for their future.”

The two men are desperate to get their families to safety.

Hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing on the plane, as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug.16. 2021. Thousands of Afghans have rushed onto the tarmac at the airport, some so desperate to escape the Taliban capture of their country that they held onto the American military jet as it took off and plunged to death. (Verified UGC via AP)

“You see that people rush to the airport, and there is no place in the airport,” says Baher. “I feel desperate, I feel hopeless, and I feel powerless.”

As Afghans try to escape the country in hopes to reunite with their families, those in Utah are asking for prayers and calling on representatives and senators to intervene before time runs out on their family members.

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