Evacuees from Afghanistan leave Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany on their way to the United States. Defense Department photo

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Bonsall, Thursday announced that two San Diego-area families trapped in the Kabul region of Afghanistan have successfully been evacuated from that country.

“This is great news, the result of tireless work by our team to ensure that our people aren’t left behind in Afghanistan,” Issa said. “But while we have made extraordinary progress, there are so many more Americans stranded in Afghanistan. We have more work to do and under extremely difficult conditions.”

The news comes as the Taliban leadership consolidate their hold over the country and several explosions rocked the Afghan capital’s airport Thursday morning.

After being contacted by local school officials, as well as a local husband and father and another relative, Issa’s staff was informed that families with several children were among the thousands of American citizens stranded in Afghanistan.

In addition, Issa’s office received a request for help from the husband and father of five American citizens via a form the congressman’s staff created on the issa.house.gov website. Issa then directed efforts to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the State Department, the Department of Defense and the White House, before the families began to be successfully extracted from Afghanistan.

“I could not be more pleased at what has been achieved so far,” he said. “But this is only a start to finally bringing our community back together and bringing our people home.”

San Diego County made national news this week as several dozen students and parents from East County remain trapped in Afghanistan after visiting extended family in the country this summer.

The 20 students and 14 parents – who make up five families – requested assistance to fly home from the U.S. government. According to David Miyashiro, the Cajon Valley Union School District superintendent, the children range in age from preschool to high school.

San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson wrote a letter to President Joe Biden urging the State Department’s assistance in evacuating the families.

“San Diego County is home to the most refugees in California, and I represent the large Middle Eastern community in the eastern part of the county,” he wrote. “I have heard from my constituents their anguish over family members and loved ones currently trapped in Afghanistan.

“My constituents are rightfully concerned for the safety of these individuals and that they could be subjected to severe mistreatment, and potentially execution, by the Taliban now controlling that nation,” Anderson added.

The tumult and chaos as the Taliban quickly took Kabul made it nearly impossible to secure a flight out of the country. The families could not reach the airport even though they had plane tickets, Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero told the Los Angeles Times.

One family was able to secure passage out of the country earlier this week. Four students and two parents, along with one infant, returned home after stopping in another country, Miyashiro said.

City News Service

Updated 4:55 p.m. Aug. 26, 2021

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