‘So scared’: woman tells of frantic efforts to save relatives in Afghanistan

A UK-based Afghan woman whose relatives worked with US and Nato forces and international humanitarian organisations has described a frantic effort from afar to try to protect her family amid fears they will be targeted by the Taliban.

“I haven’t slept for a week or so … There are tremendous threats against their lives,” said the woman, whose mother remains in 아프가니스탄 along with seven of her siblings. “I cannot tell you how much I have cried in the last four or five days. Every single day.”

It is an undertaking echoed across the Afghan diaspora and beyond as people scramble to save loved ones amid reports of the Taliban going door-to-door as they search for people who work with the former Afghan government or western countries.

“It’s not just my family. It’s millions of Afghans who are suffering,” said the woman, who worked for the Guardian in the past, and whose name is not being published in order to protect her family.

One of her brothers is a military officer who worked in the intelligence department. Another worked for US and Nato forces and most recently was part of the cabinet of the former president Ashraf Ghani. A third adopted brother is a pilot, who spent the last 20 years working with the coalition forces.

Most of them are in hiding in Kabul, as is a sister in the country’s eastern Khost province. She spent years working for the humanitarian organisations, USAid and Care International.

Efforts to have them evacuated have so far proven futile. “We’re applying to every site that we can, but nothing,” the woman said. “No responses, no news. They’re stuck.”

The fragile situation has taken a toll on her elderly mother, exacerbating an existing heart condition. “My mother is worried to death. I have two nieces, nine and 14 살이에요, who are in the house with her.”

The Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan has put women in the country on edge, their concerns heightened by reports of some universities being closed to women and gunmen entering workplaces to order women to return home.

Along with fear and dread is a profound sense of disappointment. For two decades, the woman’s siblings had risked their lives in the hope of carving out a country that would defy all that the Taliban stood for – only to watch that hope evaporate in a matter of days.

“I can hardly talk to one of my brothers because he’s so scared and upset," 그녀가 말했다. “He’s upset for the country, for what’s happening after 20 years of hard work. Absolutely everything went to zero.”

She recalled asking another of her brothers once if he would leave the country. “He said: ‘Well if everybody goes, who is going to build Afghanistan?’ Even though the west has made a plan to run away and leave Afghanistan, he wasn’t thinking of it.”

Her recent days have been spent trying to figure out how to get money to her family. “Western Union doesn’t work, the borders are closed, nothing is working. Nothing," 그녀가 말했다.

The UN World Food Programme has warned that without a rapid, coordinated humanitarian effort, Afghanistan will face an “absolute catastrophe” involving widespread hunger, homelessness and economic collapse.

The woman said she had also been gathering documentation to appeal to the Home Office after it was announced that the UK would take in 20,000 Afghan refugees. “I’m pleading for that. I’m trying different sites, American sites, British sites.”

After days of desperation, she is contemplating attempting to travel to Afghanistan herself. “If I can get in … I can probably take some of them out, or at least my brothers who are really at risk," 그녀가 말했다. “I really don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m trying. And I hope it works one way or another.”

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