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‘Still ready for what’s to come back for us’: American University of Afghanistan college students face worry and uncertainty

But now, within the phrases of 1 pupil, “I do not dream and hope for my future. My future is not safe in Afghanistan, and it looks very dark here in Afghanistan.”

Student A, whose title CNN just isn’t utilizing for his or her security, is one in all lots of of AUAF college students who had been left behind throughout US army evacuation efforts, regardless of an effort to get them to the airport earlier than all US forces left.

One month after the US army evacuation ended, AUAF college students are afraid, guarding their actions out of concern about Taliban reprisal. Although Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that AUAF companions can be among the many precedence teams for evacuation transferring ahead, the scholars CNN spoke to are nonetheless awaiting clear solutions on if and when they are going to have the ability to go away Afghanistan.

“More and more people run out of their savings account day by day,” stated a pupil who CNN is looking B, who described an environment of “hunger,” “fear” and “uncertainty” in Afghanistan.

“The situation is getting worse day by day and we are losing hope,” stated one other pupil, C.

A fourth pupil, D, instructed CNN, “I sometimes check Twitter and I see some tweets made by the Taliban in which they talk about our university. To be honest it really terrifies me.”

“All the crimes the Taliban have committed against education through the years make me and my fellow students a prime candidate for prosecution under their rules,” they stated.

“We are still waiting for what is to come for us,” D added.

‘An huge obligation’

Leslie Schweitzer, the chair of the Friends of American University of Afghanistan, stated there are greater than 3,000 college students, employees and members of the family remaining within the nation, with whom they have been speaking “all the time.”

“If we have a safe form of movement, we will get in touch with them. We have a constant flow of questions from people who are being threatened in their homes, who are unable to leave their homes,” she instructed CNN. “We’ve also had reports from some of the students who’ve been evacuated that Taliban has entered their empty homes, searching for documents, etc. It’s really important for us to stay in touch with them.”

“We have an enormous obligation to all of AUAF because each of these people involved with us, the Afghans, it was a risk from day one, just because of who we are, just because it’s the American University of Afghanistan, we teach in English, it’s an American form of education and is co-ed,” she instructed CNN.

AUAF opened in 2006 — its creation was introduced by then-first girl Laura Bush throughout a visit to Kabul the yr prior. Over greater than a decade, the US authorities invested greater than $150 million within the college, which grew to become often known as one of many nation’s greatest and attracted prime college students. It had survived a lethal terror assault in 2016 by suspected Taliban militants, reopening the subsequent yr.

The Taliban seized the AUAF campus virtually instantly after the US army accomplished its withdrawal in August.

“They had their flag on the campus’ watchtowers the very first day of the fall of Kabul,” pupil D stated.

Student A instructed CNN that “hundreds” of Taliban are actually on the campus that AUAF college students as soon as thought-about a second residence.

Schweitzer stated the Taliban have shared photographs of themselves standing “on the stairway inside the Women’s Center, which is a 70,000-square-foot building dedicated to women’s economic empowerment,” she stated. “The irony of that is quite extraordinary.”

Student D instructed CNN that although they’re “physically fine, I can’t deny the fact that the situation has affected me and my fellow students mentally at a different level.”

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“AUAF was the only place where we, Afghans, had access to world-class education. I had many goals, and studying at AUAF made me feel a step closer to my goals every day,” they stated.

“The thought of not being able to study there anymore and not being able to see the campus even once again really hurts me,” D stated.

Schweitzer underscored that AUAF just isn’t closing, telling CNN that “there was an overwhelming response from the students that said, ‘We need to keep going. We need to continue our education’.'”

Classes are persevering with on-line, however some college students instructed CNN this isn’t a tenable possibility long-term for them as a result of connectivity points, electrical energy shortages and the price of web entry.

Schweitzer stated that the college’s funds in Afghanistan are frozen and they’re “making some very serious and hard decisions as to how we can cut some costs in order to be able to manage with far less funds.”

‘Very laborious for anybody to bear’

Natalie Gonnella-Platts, the director of the Women’s Initiative on the George W. Bush Institute, instructed CNN that the US and the worldwide group have a duty to help Afghan college students “whether they’re in Afghanistan or whether they’re outside of Afghanistan.”

She identified that just about half of the scholar physique is girls and that academic establishments like AUAF had been a “direct contributor” to the positive aspects made by girls in Afghanistan over the previous decade.

“Education has such an influence on development, prosperity, peace, stability, equity,” she stated.

Schweitzer famous that “part of the value of this university was the gathering of not just males and females, but it was the gathering of ethnic minorities and people from different provinces.”

“That’s a terribly important part of all of this, learning to live together, learning transparency, critical thinking,” she stated.

Approximately 150 college students had been in a position to get out through the US army evacuations, Schweitzer instructed CNN, and within the last days earlier than the top of the US presence on the bottom in Afghanistan, a bunch of AUAF college students tried to entry the airport in Kabul to evacuate. However, the scenario grew to become too unsafe, they usually needed to flip again.

During a latest Senate Foreign Relations Committee listening to, Blinken stated “yes” when requested by Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware if the State Department was prioritizing companions from AUAF for evacuation. In early September, Reps. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, and Andy Barr, a Kentucky Republican, referred to as on Blinken to “grant presumptive eligibility to the students and staff of AUAF for P-2 designation and do everything in your power to assist in their safe departure from Afghanistan.”

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However, the State Department has stated it can proceed to first prioritize American residents who want to go away Afghanistan, and it’s unclear when any large-scale relocation efforts for at-risk Afghans may resume.

Student C instructed CNN that many AUAF college students and employees don’t carry legitimate passports and the Taliban usually are not issuing passports, so that they want to the State Department for assist acquiring correct documentation. The US authorities doesn’t at the moment have any presence on the bottom in Afghanistan.

A State Department spokesperson instructed CNN “some AUAF students have departed Afghanistan” however “for security reasons, we cannot offer additional details about those departures or how many students remain.”

“We have been in regular communication with the American University of Afghanistan administrators about their efforts to evacuate the remaining students and staff still in Afghanistan,” they stated.

However, the uncertainty about what’s subsequent “is very hard for anyone to bear,” within the phrases of pupil B.

“It’s very hard because we don’t know anything about the future,” they stated.

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