A pregnant 25-year-old California woman who remains trapped in Afghanistan described her ordeal in an interview with VOA, in which she wondered whether she would ever make it back home and that she fears for her life.
Nasria, who spoke to VOA on condition that only her first name be used out of concerns for her safety, told the outlet she traveled to Afghanistan in June to marry her longtime boyfriend, an Afghan national. Following the Taliban’s lightning takeover of the country, the newlyweds tried to evacuate but were unsuccessful.
“There’s been days where, you know, I think to myself … am I going to make it home? Am I going to end up living here? Am I going to end up dying here?” she told VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb.
In the desperate evacuation effort that followed the Taliban takeover, over 124,000 civilians managed to leave the country, including some 6,000 American citizens. The Biden administration estimates between 100 and 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan.
“Now we believe that about 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan with some intention to leave. Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan,” President Joe Biden said in an address Tuesday. “The bottom line: [Ninety-eight] percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave.”
Private groups and former military personnel, who have stepped up to raise funds and get citizens and allies out, estimate that the number of U.S. citizens remaining in Afghanistan is in the thousands, not hundreds.
Nasria described the chaotic evacuation effort, telling VOA that, “it was so hard to just get on a flight. There was a couple of days where we had to sleep on streets.”
She said her flight was canceled when evacuations were thrown into chaos by a deadly suicide bombing on Aug. 26, which claimed the lives of 13 U.S. service members, 3 Britons, and around 170 Afghans. Nasria said she coordinated with U.S. State Department officials on alternate evacuation arrangements, but these fell through in the final dramatic days of the airlift.
Nasria said that, even though she showed her American passport to Taliban members controlling access to Kabul airport, she was repeatedly denied entry.
“I had a gun pointed to my head,” she said. “Our troops were literally at the gate, just waiting for us to continue walking, and [the Taliban] had blocked us,” she said, adding that she tried to walk past them but they fired warning shots at the ground beside her and ordered her to stop.
“I’ve never in my life … ever experienced anything like this,” she continued. “It was like a movie scene.”
Even though the State Department has told her to shelter in place while they work to find a way to get her out, she said she’s losing hope.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Toria Nuland told reporters at a Sept. 1 press briefing that the United States is committed to getting Americans out by air and by land.
“As I said, we are working on trying to get that—supporting those partners on the ground who are trying to get that airport open. And we are also looking at land routes. I think on land routes, I don’t want to be any more specific because, as you know, it is a long journey with lots of dangers and we don’t want to further endanger folks who might be involved in that,” Nuland said.
Republicans have been urging the Biden administration to continue rescue efforts in Afghanistan as their offices receive calls from those still stranded in Afghanistan.
Nasria’s case has drawn the attention of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who on Wednesday said his office was helping get people out of Afghanistan.
“Nasria, a pregnant American citizen, has braved beatings and harassment by the Taliban trying to get past their checkpoints to return to the US. This is one of the individuals we continue to help. All should know the Americans left behind in Afghanistan by President Biden,” Issa said on Twitter.
Masooma Haq contributed to this report.