The Houston Afghan community is heartbroken by the chaos happening in its home country.
Monday marked another chaotic day in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans rushed an American military jet as it took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport. Seven people fell to their death because they were trying to escape the Taliban’s takeover of their country.
On Sunday, Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani left the country as the Taliban overtook the palace and 26 provincial capitals.
Joe Barnes, a research fellow with the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, said it’s a sign the Afghan government collapsed, along with the country’s 20-year agreement with the U.S.
“It all happened so quickly that the Biden administration was caught flat-footed,” Barnes said.
Barnes said the Afghan government’s swift collapse and the Taliban’s takeover likely caught President Joe Biden off guard.
“There was always going to be ugliness occurring no matter when the withdrawal occurred but I think as I mentioned the Biden Administration was blindsided and it appears to have been ill-prepared.”
At Chopan Kabob House in west Houston, there’s a concern for friends and family back in Afghanistan — particularly women and children who may once again lose their rights under Taliban rule.
“I feel very bad for my people right now because they are afraid,” said Ahmed Sadozai, an Afghan refugee. “They are living in a nightmare right now.”
Sadozai left Afghanistan in 2002 at the age of nine because of the Taliban. He said he later came to the U.S. as a refugee thanks to the help of a Houston Catholic group. His sister — an interpreter— died in a chopper in 2010 returning from a mission.
Sadozai said he fears his people will suffer if it’s the same Taliban that terrorized Afghanistan 20 years ago.
“If they have educated Taliban then that’s the right Taliban,” he said. “But if they are the Taliban that is coming from Pakistan then those are the Taliban that will destroy my country and will destroy my people.”
The Refugee Services of Texas said it plans to help 324 Afghans settle in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin in the next few weeks.