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University Students Unable to Evacuate Afghanistan

August 30, 2021

Hundreds of students and alumni of the American University of Afghanistan who’d expected to evacuate the country on U.S. military flights Sunday were turned away after seven hours of waiting for permission to enter the airport and were told that evacuations were permanently called off, The New York Times reported.

The university administration sent an email to students saying they had learned there would be no more rescue flights and asking the approximately 600 students and alumni to go home.

Members of the group were further alarmed to learn their names and passport information had been shared with members of the Taliban who were guarding airport checkpoints.

The university had been trying to arrange for evacuation of students believed to be vulnerable by virtue of their association with AUAF, a U.S. government-funded institution. The Taliban attacked the campus in 2016, killing 15 people. After the Taliban took over Kabul Aug. 15, Taliban members posted a picture of themselves on the campus with a message saying this was where the U.S. trained infidel “wolves” to corrupt Muslims’ minds.

AUAF president Ian Bickford told the Times last week that the university was working with the State Department to evacuate about 1,200 students and alumni. But he said those efforts became much more complicated last week after the attack on Kabul’s airport.

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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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