A call in the early morning to get out of Kabul

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The call came at three in the morning this Friday. The short and simple message. “Be at 10 in the morning at the Serena hotel with your children.” After days of anxiety, Zahida was going to be able to return home and reunite with her husband in the United States. It was the end of a family visit that had turned into a nightmare. Seven hours after the appointment, the woman and children were sitting on a Qatar Airways plane waiting for take off, along with a hundred other people in circumstances similar to their own.

Zahida had arrived in Kabul with her four children in June to allow the children, ages three to ten, to meet their grandparents, uncles and cousins. The idea was to spend the summer in Afghanistan, between the capital and Nangarhar, the province where the family is originally from. They had a return ticket for August 22. Like so many others, they were grounded when the Taliban took Kabul and the US Army took control of the airport to evacuate their nationals, citizens of other Western countries and the Afghans who had collaborated with them.

The woman was left in no man’s land. Although she has a US passport, she was visiting and was not included in any of the lists. Zahida became an American as a result of the fact that in 2014 her husband, who had worked for the United States, emigrated with a special visa. She moved in with him and three of her children were born there.

At 9:30 am, half an hour ahead of schedule, her brother deposited her and the four children at the Serena hotel. “There were a lot of people from the United States, from Germany, France, Holland … all Afghans with dual citizenship,” explained the man, satisfied to see them go. The day before, a first plane of the Qatari flag company took another group of Afghan citizens and foreigners out of Kabul, most of them from the United States.

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Like the day before, the Qatar Airways plane, a Boeing 777, arrived in the morning with humanitarian aid and left in the middle of the afternoon with the passage. Qatar has helped, together with Turkey, in the repair of the airfield that was rendered useless after the departure of US troops on August 30. The Taliban, eager to regain air connectivity, have withdrawn the name Hamid Karzai International Airport and reverted to the old Kabul International Airport.

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