More than three dozen Connecticut residents are still trying to leave Afghanistan after American forces withdrew. Elected officials, relief organizations, and veterans groups are trying to get them out.
“Their school teachers are calling me asking me where are the students. The 10-year-old student from New Haven who is stuck in Kabul is sending me voicemail messages,” Chris George, executive director of IRIS said.
George is talking about some of the 43 Connecticut residents stuck in Afghanistan.
“They’re running out of food and yes, they are running out of hope,” George said.
“There’s still close to 60,000 people left in the country that we have made a commitment to get out, who are under threat of violence because of their work with us," Alex Plitsas said.
Plitsas, a Fairfield resident and Army veteran, teamed up with other veterans and intelligence officials 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 back safely.
“We’re pretty excited to have them back on U.S. soil,” Plitsas said.
Those eight Connecticut residents were part of a group of 800 helped in part by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office.
“From the time the United States withdrew its last troop we were at work in trying to enable these individuals to leave,” Blumenthal said.
But it wasn’t easy and involved a number of organizations.
“The logistics of enabling the 800 people to come out of hiding to the airport because they feared for their lives,” Blumenthal added.
“No one has been hurt in the last two months. We’re going to keep them safe and do everything we can to help them until those folks all get out or we run out of cash,” Plitsas said.
There’s probably a couple hundred maybe 1,000 American citizens left, according to Plitsas.
“Effectively they found themselves trapped behind the lines. A lot of women and children as you can imagine, trapped in a city that’s under siege,” Plitsas said.
It has not been easy.
“Now we have no presence. Zero in Afghanistan, which is why we had to work through relief organizations on the ground,” Blumenthal said.
“This evacuation effort is bound to be bootstrapped, seat of the pants, ad hoc, let’s do it however we can with the planes that are available wherever they can fly from,” he added.
Plitsas who is working with the Human First Coalition said they are still taking care of thousands of people until they can find them safe passage.
“We’re hoping that they come home,” George said, referring to the Connecticut residents.
“After the 800 left on these two charter planes the group of Connecticut residents stuck in Kabul might have moved up the priority list a bit,” he added.