By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Six Afghan refugee families who had resettled in California only to end up stranded in their homeland during a summer visit that coincided with the U.S. troop withdrawal have made it safely out, San Diego-area school officials said on Monday.
At least one and perhaps two other Afghan immigrant families with students in the Cajon Valley Union School District east of San Diego remained stuck in Afghanistan. U.S. airlift evacuations from the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, came to an end on Monday.
The plight of the eight Cajon Valley school district families was disclosed last week by district officials. They initially reported six families – about 16 adults and 24 students – were stranded and that one of those families returned to California by last Wednesday.
The number of families was later revised to eight. The overall count of individuals has remained unclear.
In an update emailed Monday, district spokesman Howard Shen told Reuters that three families were confirmed to have made it back and that several children “returned to school on Monday to the open arms of their teachers and classmates.”
Three other families are out of Afghanistan and on their way to the United States, Shen said, adding that one remaining family “is in process at the Afghanistan airport and another family is still waiting for help.”
Reuters did not immediately receive responses to follow-up queries sent to the school district and to U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, who has been working to bring the families back.
More than 114,000 people were airlifted from the Kabul airport over the past two weeks. The Biden administration has said it expects the Taliban to continue allowing safe passage for the few Americans who chose to stay behind and for others who wish to leave. But the Kabul airport remains closed to commercial flights for the time being.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Donna Bryson and Cynthia Osterman)