But now, in the words of one student, “I do not dream and do not anticipate my future. My future is not secure in Afghanistan, and looks very dark here in Afghanistan.”
Student A, whose name Granthshala is not using for his protection, is one of hundreds of AUAF students who remained behind during US military evacuation efforts despite all US forces attempting to bring them to the airport before leaving. Had gone.
A month after the US military evacuation ended, AUAF students fear defending their movements out of concern about Taliban retaliation. Although Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that AUAF partners will be among the priority groups for the evacuation going forward, students Granthshala spoke to are still awaiting a clear answer that they will be able to leave Afghanistan. Or not.
“More and more people are running out of their savings accounts day by day,” said one student, who is calling Granthshala B, who described an atmosphere of “hunger,” “fear” and “uncertainty” in Afghanistan .
“The situation is getting worse day by day and we are losing hope,” said another student, C.V.
Dee, a fourth student, told Granthshala, “I sometimes check Twitter and I see some tweets made by the Taliban in which they talk about our university. To be honest it really scares me “
“All the crimes the Taliban have committed against education over the years make me and my fellow students a prime candidate to be prosecuted under their rules,” he said.
“We’re still waiting for what’s to come for us,” Dee said.
‘A huge responsibility’
Leslie Schweitzer, president of Friends of the American University of Afghanistan, said there were more than 3,000 students, staff and family members remaining in the country, with whom they have been communicating “all the time”.
“If we have a safe form of movement, we’ll be in touch with them. We have constant questions from people who are being threatened in their homes, who are unable to leave their homes,” she told Granthshala. Told. “We’ve also got reports from some students who have been evicted that the Taliban have broken into their vacant homes, looking for documents, etc. It’s really important for us to keep in touch with them.”
“We all have a huge obligation to the AUAF because every one of these people involved with us, Afghans, it was a risk from day one, just because of who we are, just because it’s the American University of Afghanistan, we English It’s an American form of education and co-ed,” she told Granthshala.
AUAF opened in 2006 – its creation was announced by then First Lady Laura Bush during a visit to Kabul a year earlier. In more than a decade, the US government invested more than $150 million in the university, which became known as one of the best and attracted top students in the country. It survived a deadly 2016 terror attack by suspected Taliban militants, which was reopened the following year.
The Taliban seized the AUAF compound almost immediately after US forces completed their withdrawal in August.
“They had their flag on the campus watchtower on the first day of the fall of Kabul,” said student D.
Student A told Granthshala that “hundreds” of the Taliban are now on the campus that AUAF students once considered a second home.
Schweitzer said the Taliban “shared photos of them standing on a ladder inside the Women’s Center, a 70,000-square-foot building dedicated to the economic empowerment of women,” she said. “The irony of it is quite extraordinary.”
Student D told Granthshala that even though they are “physically fine, I can’t deny the fact that the condition has affected me and my fellow students mentally on a different level.”
“AUAF was the only place where we, Afghans, had access to world-class education. I had many goals, and studying at AUAF made me feel one step closer to my goals every day,” he said.
“The thought of not being able to study there anymore and not be able to see the campus once again really hurts me a lot,” Dee said.
Schweitzer underlined that AUAF is not closing, telling Granthshala that “there was an overwhelming response from students saying, ‘We need to keep going. We need to continue our education. ‘”
Classes continue online, but some students told Granthshala that this is not a long-term option for them due to connectivity issues, lack of electricity and the cost of Internet access.
Schweitzer said university funds in Afghanistan are frozen and they are “making some very serious and difficult decisions about how we can cut some of the costs to be able to manage with less money.”
‘Very difficult for anyone to bear’
Natalie Gonella-Platts, director of the Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, told Granthshala that the US and the international community have a responsibility to support Afghan students “whether they are in Afghanistan or out of Afghanistan.”
She pointed out that almost half of the student organizations are women and that educational institutions such as the AUAF were “direct contributors” to the gains made by women in Afghanistan over the past decade.
“Education has such an impact on development, prosperity, peace, stability, equality,” she said.
Schweitzer noted that “part of the value of this university was not only the gathering of men and women, but it was the gathering of ethnic minorities and people from different provinces.”
“It’s a very important part of all of this, learning to live together, learning transparency, critical thinking,” she said.
About 150 students were able to exit during the US military evacuation, Schweitzer told Granthshala, and in the final days before the end of the US presence on the ground in Afghanistan, a group of AUAF students drove to the airport in Kabul to evacuate. Tried to reach . However, the situation turned very unsafe and they had to return.
During a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Blinken said “yes” when Democratic Sen. Chris Koons of Delaware asked whether the State Department was prioritizing partners from the AUAF for evacuation. In early September, Representatives Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, and Andy Barr, a Kentucky Republican, called on Blinken to “in their power to provide and assist you with predictable qualifications to AUAF students and staff for the P-2 designation.” Called to do everything. His safe departure from Afghanistan.”
However, the State Department has said it will continue to prioritize US citizens who want to leave Afghanistan first, and it is unclear when mass relocation efforts for at-risk Afghans can resume.
Student C told Granthshala that many AUAF students and staff do not hold valid passports and the Taliban are not issuing passports, so they are looking to the State Department for help in obtaining the proper documents. The US government does not currently have a grassroots presence in Afghanistan.
A State Department spokesman told Granthshala that “some AUAF students have left Afghanistan” but “for security reasons, we cannot provide additional details about those departures or how many students remain.”
“We are in regular communication with the administrators of the American University of Afghanistan regarding their efforts to evacuate the remaining students and staff to Afghanistan,” he said.
However, the uncertainty about what lies ahead is “very hard for anyone to bear,” in the words of student B.
“It’s very difficult because we don’t know anything about the future,” he said.
Credit : www.cnn.com