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29 Sacramento students stuck in Afghanistan, school district says

The last U.S. flight out of Kabul took off Monday, capping a bloody and chaotic end to America’s longest war.
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More than two dozen students from the Sacramento, California, area remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. evacuation ended earlier this week, according to San Juan Unified School District.

“We can confirm that we currently have 29 students, from 19 families, in Afghanistan,” Raj Rai, director of communication for the school district, said Tuesday, responding on behalf of Superintendent Kent Kern. “We stand ready to support these students and families in whatever way that we can.”

One-month-old Fitrat is one of the newest members of the Afghan community of Sacramento, California.
One-month-old Fitrat is one of the newest members of the Afghan community of Sacramento, Calif.Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Earlier Tuesday, the total number of students from San Juan Unified School District still in Afghanistan was thought to be 32, but the district since learned that three students had been evacuated, he said.

The Sacramento area has one of the largest populations of Afghan immigrants in the U.S.

The last U.S. flight out of Kabul took off a minute before midnight local time Monday (3:29 p.m. ET), capping a bloody and chaotic end to America’s longest war and opening a new, uncertain chapter for Afghanistan.

Since July, the U.S. has helped to airlift more than 120,000 people out of Afghanistan, including roughly 5,500 Americans. President Joe Biden said Tuesday that roughly 100 to 200 Americans still remained in Afghanistan who have “some intention to leave,” many of whom are dual citizens.

While tens of thousands of evacuees made it out as the U.S. military withdrew, initial figures suggest that only around 8,500 of those who left in recent months were Afghans, according to numbers released by the Biden administration and estimates from advocates.

It was not clear if the students from the Sacramento area were U.S. citizens.

A spokesperson for the State Department said they could not comment on specific cases, but officials were continuing to assist U.S. citizens and their families in Afghanistan. The department was also continuing efforts to help lawful permanent residents, as well as many Afghans who "stood with us over the years" and are seeking to leave Afghanistan, the spokesperson said.

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The Sacramento Bee reportedthat at an information session at a local high school last week, students and parents asked questions about how to get their loved ones out of Afghanistan. Humaira Hanif, 21, wiped away tears as she asked how to bring her mother to the U.S., the paper reported.

Travis Horne, communications director for Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., said his office was in close contact with San Juan Unified School District and had sent the information of students stuck in Afghanistan to the Department of Defense and the State Department.

“We are pushing the DOD and State for an update,” he said.

NBC San Diego station KNSD reportedTuesday that a San Diego-area family, including three students who go to schools in Cajon Valley Union School District, were also not able to make it out of the country. It was not immediately clear how many other U.S. school districts were missing students because they were unable to get out of Afghanistan.

The U.S. war in Afghanistan drew to a close Monday nearly 20 years after America invaded in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, toppling the Taliban government.

After a heavy cost in lives and a price tag of $2.3 trillion, the Taliban are back in power having swept aside the U.S.-backed government in a lightning-quick offensive that took Afghans and the West by surprise.

The U.S. hopes Americans and Afghans will be able to leave once Kabul airport is back up and running, but it remains unclear how long that will take.