SAN ANTONIO – Lark Escobar spent two years living in Afghanistan and several after that working with people there as a trainer for the United States Military.
As thousands frantically try to get out of that country with the Taliban moving back in, she is trying everything she can to help those she worked with.
“So in my group, there’s about 65 people that we’re trying for the last five days to get out through the airport,” Escobar said. “It was not possible. Before you can go to the airport, you have to complete many documents. It takes between seven and eight hours for each person to put all of their packages together. And it’s easy to make mistakes.”
Escobar said not only is the scene chaotic, but she says those still there are now in danger.
“The Taliban were taking apart and dismantling the entire communications towers so internet was cut. Phone was cut. Electricity was cut to try and control population movement,” Escobar said. “It was very slow and tedious to try and get all of their identification documents. And then in the process of doing that, the Taliban came, raided homes, looted them, tossed them, took all of their identification documents and cards. In most cases, spray-painted their homes, marked them and said, ‘we’re coming back on Friday to shoot you.’ So that began the clock ticking of trying to get them out.”
The bombing outside the airport in Kabul on Thursday came just after Escobar’s friends left the airport to rest and recharge their phones. Escobar said the situation is only getting worse.
“There’s lots of competing factions for an interim government right now and the Taliban is only one of them, Escobar said. “They’re the most powerful. But there are smaller terrorist organizations and militias that are all vying for power over their fiefdom. And part of that is on political lines. Part of it’s on ethnic lines, part of it is on religious lines, and part of it is just chaos.”
Escobar said she worries about the safety of those she is trying to help.
“Everyone had to leave already there on their own, and they’re trying to move from place to place.,” Escobar said. “Some people feel that they’re safer where they are. Roads are closed. So movement is very difficult.”
“I’m sharing information and working channels through LinkedIn, through WhatsApp, through Facebook, through Signal, through SMS. We’re just reaching out to everyone that we know. I tried tweeting people. I tried tweeting the president just begging anyone for help.”
Escobar hopes the group she is helping can get out before it’s too late.
“They need more resources,” Escobar said. “We need more everything. And we need it faster. We can do better and we have to do better because lives depend on it.”