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Third California school district reveals it has students trapped in Afghanistan

Third California school district reveals it has students trapped in Afghanistan: More than 30 children are stranded after families missed final US evacuation flight

  • The Sacramento City Unified School District said an Afghan immigrant family with three children had asked for help in getting out of Afghanistan
  • The San Juan Union School District said it had identified 27 students from 19 families enrolled in the district who said they have been unable to get out
  • One family with the Cajon Valley Union School District also remains trapped in the country
  • Officials said that some of the children were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens. 
  • On Monday the final military evacuation flight left Kabul, ending America’s 20-year war in the country  


A third US school district has announced that it has students who are still trapped in Afghanistan after families visiting relatives missed the final US evacuation flight this week.

More than 30 California children are now known to be stuck in Afghanistan after they traveled to the country before the Taliban seized power and were unable to get out before U.S. forces left. 

The Sacramento City Unified School District said an Afghan immigrant family with three children enrolled at Ethel I. Baker Elementary had contacted the district to ask for help in getting out of the country.

‘The only word I can say is heartbreaking,’ said district spokeswoman Tara Gallegos.

It came after two other school districts – one in the San Diego area and another in Sacramento – said that they have been in contact with families who fear they have been forgotten by the U.S. government.  

The officials said that some of the children were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens.

Also in Sacramento, the San Juan Union School District said it had identified 27 students from 19 families enrolled in the district who said they have been unable to get out of Afghanistan and return home.  

PICTURED: Families walk towards their flight during ongoing evacuations at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan (file image)

U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit process evacuees as they go through the Evacuation Control Center (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (file image)

U.S. Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit process evacuees as they go through the Evacuation Control Center (ECC) during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (file image)

‘These numbers continue to change rapidly,’ Raj Rai, a district spokeswoman said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. ‘We believe that some of these families may be in transit out of Afghanistan, as we have not been able to reach many of them in the last few days.’

Rai said the district was working with elected officials to help the families leave the country.

‘San Juan Unified stands with our Afghan community and all those whose loved ones are currently in Afghanistan,’ she said. ‘We sincerely hope for their speedy and safe return back to the U.S. and back to our school communities.’

In the Cajon Valley Union School District in a San Diego suburb with a large refugee population, eight families reached out to their children’s schools before classes started August 17 to report that they were having trouble leaving Afghanistan.

Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California worked with the district and U.S. government officials and seven of the families have since made it out of Afghanistan. Most are now back home in the city of El Cajon and some of the students returned to class on Monday.

But one family is still stuck in Afghanistan, said Cajon Valley Union School District spokesman Howard Shen. 

A spokesperson for Republican Representative Issa (pictured) says the congressman's office aided in the successful freeing of San Diego families who were trapped in Kabul

A spokesperson for Republican Representative Issa (pictured) says the congressman’s office aided in the successful freeing of San Diego families who were trapped in Kabul

District officials were in contact with family members, he said, and trying to help them get out.

Nearly all of the children trapped in Afghanistan returned there with one or both parents in the spring or early summer to visit relatives. The families traveled on their own to the country and were not part of any organized trips.

Many of the families arrived in the U.S. years ago after obtaining special immigrant visas granted to Afghans who had worked for the U.S. government or U.S. military over the past two decades.

Some of the families told school district officials that they had made attempts to get on planes at the airport in Kabul but were unable get through Taliban checkpoints or through the throngs of Afghans surrounding the airport over the past two weeks. 

The U.S. ended its evacuation efforts and withdrew its forces on Monday.

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