Afghan refugees express relief, loss after arriving in US

·2-min read

Shima, a 30-year-old Afghan woman, choked up as she displayed a picture on her mobile phone of her two daughters, aged six and 10.

"My girls are in Afghanistan and I am in America," she told reporters shortly after arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

"I'm dead, dead," Shima said as she began to sob and covered her face with her hands. "I'm dead."

Shima, who goes by a single name, arrived with her husband but they were unable to immediately bring their daughters with them.

Romal Haiderzada, 27, was also among a group of Afghans who were flown to the United States on Monday for resettlement.

"We came from Kabul," said Haiderzada, who received what is known as a special immigrant visa.

"You know the situation is not so good these days since the Taliban came," he said.

"Many people came from Afghanistan because we had worked with US soldiers in Bagram," he said in a reference to a former US military base north of Kabul.

"That's why we feel unsafe," he said. "We just came here."

Haiderzada said it felt "great" to be in the United States and he expressed his gratitude "for their solutions for people that have problems."

"I feel that, thank you," he said.

Haiderzada said he had spent time at US bases in Qatar and Germany before finally being flown to the United States on Monday.

- 'Kind of dangerous' -

Jan, a 21-year-old Afghan-American man who had been in Afghanistan visiting his family, said the situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul where the evacuation flights are being staged was "kind of dangerous."

"Very crowded," Jan said. "Everyone was trying to leave the country... because they wanted to be safe."

A White House official said Monday that about 48,000 people have been evacuated from Kabul since the intensified airlift began on August 14.

The United States is seeking to complete the airlift by an August 31 deadline set by President Joe Biden for a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Those being evacuated include US citizens and thousands of Afghans who worked for US forces or are seen as at risk of Taliban reprisals for their work with non-governmental organizations, the media or other jobs.

The rush to leave Kabul has sparked harrowing scenes and left at least eight people dead -- some were crushed to death and at least one, a youth football player, died after falling off a plane.

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