Dozens of US kids, including pre-schoolers, and parents stuck in Afghanistan

Passengers waiting to board a US Air Force aircraft at the international airport in Kabul on Aug 24, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Almost two dozen children and their parents from San Diego County in California are trapped in Afghanistan after they visited the country this summer, the authorities said.

The 20 children and 14 parents are stuck in Afghanistan and have requested government assistance to fly home, according to a statement from the Cajon Valley Union School District and a post on Twitter from Representative Darrell Issa, who represents the district where the children are from.

The children range in age from pre-school to high school, said Mr David Miyashiro, the district superintendent.

The children and parents, who make up five families, went to Afghanistan to visit their extended families, the school district said. But they soon realised they would not make it back for the first day of school on Aug 17.

Two days earlier, the Taleban had stunned the world by capturing Kabul at alarming speed.

It became nearly impossible to secure a flight out of the country, and 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.

The families were not among the hordes of people desperately trying to board a plane out of the Kabul airport, Mr Miyashiro said in an interview on Wednesday (Aug 25) night.

"Most of them are hiding and sheltering in place until somebody contacts them to help them get out," he said.

One of the families asked on Aug 16 that the school "hold their children's spots in their classrooms while they were stranded", the school district said.

However, one family secured passage out of Afghanistan. Four students and two parents, along with one infant, returned home this week after stopping in another country, Mr Miyashiro said.

Mr Issa said on Wednesday on Twitter that he was working diligently to bring the stranded families home. "I won't stop until we have answers and action," he said.

Mr Jonathan Wilcox, a spokesman for Mr Issa, said in a statement that the congressman is trying to obtain immigration paperwork for his constituents who are stuck in Afghanistan.

"We are in consistent contact with official channels including the State Department and the Pentagon," the statement said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.