More than three dozen Connecticut residents are still trying to leave Afghanistan after U.S. forces withdrew. Elected officials, aid organizations and veterans’ groups are trying to get them out.
“Their schoolteachers are calling me and asking me where the students are. The 10-year-old student from New Haven who is stuck in Kabul is sending me voicemail messages,” said Chris George, CEO of IRIS.
George talks about some of the 43 Connecticut residents stuck in Afghanistan.
“They’re running out of food, and yes, they’re running out of hope,” George said.
“There are still close to 60,000 people left in the country that we have committed to getting out of who are threatened with violence because of their work with us,” Alex Plitsas said.
Plitsas, a Fairfield resident and military veteran, teamed up with other veterans and intelligence officers to make sure Americans and Afghans who helped Americans were able to get out of the country.
Nearly two weeks ago, they were able to get eight Connecticut residents safely back.
“We are quite happy to have them back on American soil,” Plitsas said.
These eight residents of Connecticut were part of a group of 800, assisted in part by the office of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal.
“From the moment the United States withdrew its last troop, we were in the process of trying to enable these people to leave,” Blumenthal said.
But it was not easy and involved a number of organizations.
“The logistics of enabling the 800 people to get out of hiding to the airport because they feared for their lives,” Blumenthal added.
“No one has been injured in the last two months. We will keep them safe and do everything we can to help them until they all come out or we run out of cash, ”said Plitsas.
There are probably a few hundred perhaps 1,000 U.S. citizens left, according to Plitsas.
“They were actually trapped behind the lines. A lot of women and children, as you can imagine, were trapped in a city under siege,” Plitsas said.
It has not been easy.
“Now we have no presence. Zero in Afghanistan and therefore we had to work through relief organizations on the ground,” Blumenthal said.
“This evacuation effort is bound to be with boots, trouser seat, ad hoc, let’s do what we can with the planes that are available, no matter where they may fly from,” he added.
Plitsas, who works with the Human First Coalition, said they are still taking care of thousands of people until they can find them safe passage.
“We hope they come home,” George said, referring to Connecticut residents.
“After the 800 left on these two charter flights, the group of Connecticut residents stuck in Kabul could have moved up a bit on the priority list,” he added.