Around 150 students of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) have managed to get out of Afghanistan over the past few days, with some of them leaving by crossing the border to neighboring countries and others securing a flight, the university’s President Ian Bickford told Newsweek.
According to president Bickford, ever since the Taliban fighters took control of Afghanistan on August 15, the university tried to help around 1,200 students, staff, and relatives to leave the country, Erudera.com reports.
“We have been trying for two weeks to get our students safe passage into the airport to relocate them to other sites—both branches that we are developing and partner universities, where we can reconvene as a community and start to rebuild and help them recover from the experience that they’ve had,” Bickford told Newsweek.
Bickford also said that the university officials are trying to figure out a way to help all other students, staff, and their relatives left behind to leave Afghanistan, adding that the university is hoping that new options will emerge with the help of the US government.
Meanwhile, in an interview with CNN’s Peter Bergen, Chairman and President of Friends of the American University of Afghanistan, Leslie Schweitzer said that the Taliban took control of the university’s campus and she fears for those who have not managed to leave yet.
”We had a total of 4,000 people that we needed to get out of Afghanistan. We started by prioritizing our students and, obviously, our expats, which we were able to get out. But we’ve only been able to get about 50 students out and then we have another, 50 to 75 students who were able to escape on their own,” she said.
Schweitzer added that although the US government has funded 70 percent of the university earlier, the institution has received very little support since the Taliban seized control in Afghanistan again.
She noted that the American University of Afghanistan has the highest proportion of Fulbright scholars of any world’s university. However, many of the students who received scholarships under the program are stuck in Afghanistan and could not head to their study destinations.
Most recently, the New York Times reported that hundreds of AUAF’s students, including former students fearing the United States gave their names to the Taliban, went to the Hamid Karzai International Airport, trying to leave the country. Nevertheless, after seven hours of waiting for clearance, they were told that the airport gates were a security threat and that the evacuation of civilians is expected to end on Monday.
While US troops were preparing to leave Afghanistan, the US and other world countries worked to evacuate as many Afghans as possible before the August 31 deadline. As a result, most Afghan refugees were sent to third countries that have opened doors to them, while many others managed to escape to neighboring countries.
The United States has also accepted Afghan refugees without visas under the humanitarian parole immigration program.
The Taliban took control of Afghanistan by mid-August, twenty years after the US invaded the country as a response to September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.