OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – The images we’ve been seeing online and on our television screens since the evacuation from Afghanistan began have been shocking for many Americans. But these images are also hitting close to home for many in our area, especially veterans.
We’ve been speaking with West Virginia State Senator Ryan Weld since this all began, who has been trying to help allies he had during his time serving in Afghanistan make it out of the country. Following today’s attacks, that will be more difficult than ever, but he isn’t giving up hope.
“At this point I think it’s all but impossible, if not extremely, extremely difficult, for Afghans who worked with Americans or ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) personnel to get out of the country on a flight in the next several days.State Sen. Ryan Weld (R-BROOKE, 01)
Seantor Weld has been working to help a man named Mohammad and his family escape Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover began. Weld worked closely with him during the year he spent serving in the Zabul Province. Like many other veterans across the country, Weld has been trying to secure passage on a plane for his former ally, but today’s attacks may have changed the game.
“We’re now entering a new phase in all of this, with even more confusion and unpredictability, and that is going to be trying to find a way out on the ground for these folks.”State Sen. Ryan Weld (R-BROOKE, 01)
But finding a way out of Afghanistan on the ground isn’t proving any easier than trying to board a plane.
Weld tells us that while the International focus has largely been on what’s going on in Kabul near the airport, the borders of Afghanistan are also a mess. Weld and other veterans have been trying to find a way to get allies to neighboring countries like Pakistan, but those countries are not exactly welcoming Afghanis with open arms.
“Pakistan has been kind of using COVID as a cover, by saying you’re not coming in unless you have a negative test or that you have proof that you’re vaccinated. So unfortunately they’ve kind of been using that to slow the rate down of people who can get out or are looking to get out.”State Sen. Ryan Weld (R-BROOKE, 01)
Weld acknowledges that while Pakistan is hardly a safe haven, it’s not Afghanistan. But he also says that we will figure this out, for the Americans that are still trapped there, and our former Afghan colleagues. Weld also tells us that he hopes everyone on the national level is with us when it comes to solving this crisis.
For continued updates on Afghanistan, stay with 7NEWS.