19 American children and 14 parents are among those trapped in Kabul

EXCLUSIVE: At least 19 American children and their Afghan-born parents now living in California are among those trapped in Kabul after visiting the country for summer vacation as they desperately try to escape

  • El Cajon school district near San Diego announced Tuesday that at least 24 students and 16 parents from Afghan families are now stranded in Kabul 
  • Amanda Matti, who served six years in the Navy, said some of those trapped children are American citizens, born in the US in the last five years 
  • DailyMail.com confirmed that one family with five children have since been able to make it back to California Wednesday
  • Remaining are about 19 students and 14 parents
  • Matti said she has been in contact with a family of six, including green card-holding parents from El Cajon, who have been struggling to get to the airport 
  • ‘This all happened right in the middle of summer vacation so it was the prime time when there would be the highest number of US residents in the country,’ she said
  • A huge explosion rocked the Abbey gate of the Kabul airport while another hit the nearby Barons Hotel on Thursday 
  • Initial reports say at least 60 people were killed including children, Afghans and US troops

American children are among at least 33 California residents trapped in Kabul, a former Navy intelligence officer and advocate for Afghan interpreters told DailyMail.com.

El Cajon school district, near San Diego, announced Tuesday that at least 24 students and 16 parents from Afghan families who moved to the US after assisting the military are now stranded in the country’s capital.

Mike Serban, director of family and community engagement for Cajon Valley school district, said six families from his district were stranded, but confirmed that one family with five children have since been able to make it back to California Wednesday.

Remaining are about 19 students and 14 parents.

Amanda Matti, who served six years in the Navy, deployed to Iraq, and now works for charities helping Afghan and Iraqi interpreters, told DailyMail.com that the Cajon Valley residents and other Afghan green card holders flew to Afghanistan this summer to visit their relatives, perhaps for the last time, before US troops pulled out and the Taliban took over. 

‘This all happened right in the middle of summer vacation so it was the prime time when there would be the highest number of US permanent residents in [Afghanista],’ she said. ‘They all thought they had until September to get out. Many of them were scheduled to fly out the week that all this blew up.’

This comes as two blasts at the Kabul airport Thursday killed up to 60 people, including 10 American troops and multiple children. 

DailyMail.com confirmed that one family with five children from El Cajon, California,  have since been able to make it back to California Wednesday. Remaining are about 19 students and 14 parents. Pictured are people evacuating Afghanistan 

El Cajon school district near San Diego announced Tuesday that at least 24 students and 16 parents from Afghan families are now stranded in Kabul

Matti said she has been in contact with a family of six, including green card-holding parents from El Cajon, who have been desperately struggling to get to a gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to show their passports and visas.

Amanda Matti, who served six years in the Navy, deployed to Iraq, said some of those trapped children are American citizens, born in the US in the last five years to their green card-holding parents

‘A lot of the green card families, the parents have green cards and they’ve been here for a few years, they’ve had younger children that were born here, so those younger children are citizens,’ the southern California-based Navy veteran told DailyMail.com.

‘I’m in touch with a family who tried today and they just messaged me that they didn’t make it.

‘They’re just going back to relatives or wherever they can that is somewhat safe and sheltering in place for now.

‘We try to keep limited contact just for their safety. It’s just been a matter of us trying to pass information to them from senators’ offices or congressmen and women who are helping, who are in direct contact with State Department.

‘They are trying to pass along information like ”hey tell them right now that it doesn’t seem like the wait time at such and such gate is so long, have them try this gate, have them take a picture of themselves so we know what they’re wearing and somebody can identify them.”’

‘But there’s such confusion right now and there’s really no organization. 

‘They come here mainly to the El Cajon area outside San Diego because there was already a huge Iraqi refugee population here that resettled during the first Gulf war,’ she said.

‘There was already a ‘Little Baghdad’ area so they were like let’s put Afghans there too.

‘These are actual green card holders. Most of them settled here in 2016, 17 and 18. The summer time is a big time they go back and visit family for funerals and weddings.’ 

Mike Serban, director of family and community engagement for Cajon Valley school district, said six families from his district were stranded, but confirmed that one family with five children have since been able to make it back to California Wednesday 

Matti served six years in the United States Navy, including a 2005 deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At age 22, she fell in love with her Iraqi translator, helped secure his passage to America and married him. Pictured with her husband and child  

Matti said that although Taliban fighters were not yet going from door to door looking for Americans and Western allies, the danger and tension in the city is palpable.

‘[The Taliban] don’t seem to be singling anybody out at this time but it does seem to be getting worse,’ she said.

‘Right now as far as we know it just seems like they’re more taking control of the city and trying to lock down the city. They’re closing streets, closing roads and making it more difficult for people to get to the airport.’

Matti served six years in the United States Navy, including a 2005 deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At age 22, she fell in love with her Iraqi translator, helped secure his passage to America and married him.

Her husband was ‘an Iraqi college student recruited right off his neighborhood street to translate for U.S. forces throughout the course of the Iraq War,’ Matti said.

The former intelligence analyst wrote about her romance in a novel, A Foreign Affair.

Fairdoon Hashemi and Mohammad Sarfarez, bilingual community liaisons for Cajon Valley district school board’s Family and Children Engagement program, were first contacted by a family trapped in Afghanistan on August 16.

The family contacted the liaisons ‘to please hold their spot at their local school,’ Howard Shen, the school district’s media contact, told DailyMail.com.

Mike Serban confirmed that some of the Southern California children stranded in Kabul are US citizens.

‘There’s definitely some US citizens in that situation who were either born here or became US citizens here,’ he said. 

Thursday’s blast took place near the Baron Hotel at the Abbey Gate of the airport where huge crowds had gathered in an attempt to enter the airport

Wounded women arrive at a hospital for treatment after two blasts, which killed at least five and wounded a dozen, outside the airport in Kabul on Thursday 

A suicide bomb caused a huge explosion outside Kabul airport with ‘unknown casualties’ just hours after warnings of an ‘imminent’ and ‘lethal’ ISIS terrorist attack

Mike Serban said: ‘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,’ Serban said according to CBS8.

‘They’re still in Afghanistan trying to find their way to the airport or on an airplane.’

A spokesman for US Rep. Darrel Issa of California’s 49th congressional district – which encompasses San Diego County – said the lawmaker is working to get them home.

‘Congressman Issa and his staff are working diligently to determine the facts on the ground, any bureaucratic barriers that can be removed, and the best ways to help those stranded leave Afghanistan and return home safely. We won’t stop until we have answers and action,’ said Issa’s communications director, Jonathan Wilcox.

Cajon Valley School Board President Tamara Otero said: ‘The biggest concern is that the Taliban closed the airport.

‘We are so worried about our students that are stuck there. We’ll do the best we can to get them out.’

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