Almost two dozen California students stranded with their families in Afghanistan

The El Cajon students were on what would have otherwise been a simple trip to visit relatives over the summer


                            Almost two dozen California students stranded with their families in Afghanistan
Evacuees from Kabul sit inside a military aircraft as they arrive at Tashkent Airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Photo by Marc Tessensohn/Bundeswehr via Getty Images)

A group of nearly two dozen students from El Cajon, California, was stranded in Afghanistan as of Tuesday, August 24, as they tried to make their way back to the United States. The school district is reportedly assisting them and their families in all the ways they can.

The students were on what would have otherwise been a simple trip to visit relatives over the summer, but it turned into an uncertain situation as the Taliban seized Kabul. President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he planned to have all American citizens evacuated from Afghanistan by August 31, the deadline set by the Taliban. Now, a combined 23 students from the Cajon Valley Union School District are trying to get back home as soon as possible, the San Diego Tribune reported.

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“Several of our families over summer break independently decided to go home to Afghanistan and see their extended family. A lot of the families, their nuclear families are here but all their grandparents and everybody are still in Afghanistan,” said Michael Serban, director of Family & Community Engagement for the Cajon Valley Union School District. “They’re still in Afghanistan trying to find their way to the airport or on an airplane," he added.

Commenting on the situation, congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D) CA Dist. 53, said in a statement on Tuesday that she continued to "support and agree with President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. However, I remain incredibly concerned about the ongoing evacuation process in Kabul and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.”

Displaced Afghans reach out for aid from a local Muslim organization at a makeshift IDP camp (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

It seems highly unlikely that the US will be able to evacuate thousands of Afghan allies who assisted the US in its war efforts by next week. Serban, in the meantime, has said that the district is rallying around the stranded families to offer help and support. “We’re working really closely with our federal government officials in reaching out to them, to make connections, to get the two connected so that the federal government knows who’s there and how they can support them to get them back here to the United States,” he explained.

After speaking with a couple of the parents, Serban said that one of their main concerns was ensuring their kids would get back to school. He said he was quite confident that they would return to the US safely.

According to the Tribune, Cajon Valley school board president Tamara Otero said the families had tickets to fly out of Afghanistan, “but unfortunately they were not able to get to the airport.” Otero explained that “the biggest concern is that the Taliban closed the airport. It’s killing us right now. We are so worried about our students that are stuck there. We’ll do the best we can to get them out.”

The Cajon Valley Union School District central office on April 10, 2018 (KPBS)

The students were in Afghanistan on summer vacation with their families and were planning on being home for the school year that began on August 17, Cajon Valley School Board member Jo Alegria told the publication. After being unable to get on their scheduled flights back home due to the ongoing crisis, the district is now helping arrange the proper documentation the students need to expedite and secure their safe return, Alegria added.

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