dentists from Santa Barbara-based Afghanistan dental relief project stranded in Kabul awaiting visas | Local News
More than 80 people from the Santa Barbara-based non-profit Afghanistan Dental Relief Project are frantically awaiting visa approvals to flee Kabul to Afghanistan.
Kabul airport has been a scene of chaos in recent days with a massive airlift effort to evacuate people from the city and a deadly suicide bombing that has killed more than 170 people, including US servicemen, according to media reports. international.
James Rolfe, the founder of ADRP who currently works in his Santa Barbara office, spent $ 1.4 million out of his own pocket to build dental clinics in Afghanistan and train dentists in the hope of expanding infrastructure and dental care in the country, Rolfe told Noozhawk. .
“Now all of these people that I have trained, and all of these people who have been involved in the project trying to help the Afghan people, are afraid for their lives,” he said. “We get about 50 WhatsApp communications every 10 minutes, coordinating with military personnel and trying to get these visas approved.”
As seen circulating in heartbreaking and devastating videos and photos, the Taliban have surrounded Kabul airport, making passage through checkpoints extremely difficult for those trying to flee, Rolfe said.
The Taliban require people to have approved visas to pass through checkpoints, and as far as Rolfe knows, there are no approved visa applications for people who work for non-governmental organizations abroad. .
According to Rolfe’s latest news, they are now checking application documents so that those who have filed P2 visa documents can go through checkpoints without approved visas, he said.
Rolfe has sent five of his employees as a test to see if they can go through the checkpoints and the gate with only the application documents, and if successful, those five will call Rolfe and he will send a note to the rest of the 25. employees and their families to make the dangerous journey to the airport, he said.
“We are only testing the waters, very carefully, but trying to get our people out as quickly as possible,” he added. “We’re calling on members of Congress and anyone we can think of to try to cross us to help our people get home, but the State Department and our whole government have really been caught with their pants on here.”
Rolfe said ADRP personnel in Afghanistan are extremely worried as he has received death threats, and even his family members have received death threats.
Rolfe said that at this point he tells his people to pack their bags and be ready to go, and when the time comes, Rolfe and ADRP will tell them how to get to the airport checkpoints safely. and go through the door.
Rolfe is unsure of the fate of the ADRP clinic in Afghanistan, which will likely be abandoned due to President Joe Biden’s “unrealistic” August 31 deadline for getting everyone out, he said.
Rolfe has devoted the past 18 years to this work, and ADRP now has over 200,000 trained employees including dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, patient coordinators and a technical team. The project provides free basic treatment to more than 20,000 poor Afghans each year, according to Rolfe.
The board of directors of the Mayors Migration Council recently issued a statement calling on national governments to immediately open their doors to Afghan refugees and provide the necessary resources to facilitate resettlement.
“We are deeply saddened by the situation in Afghanistan, which is exacerbating one of the world’s oldest humanitarian and displacement crises. Over the past two months, 300,000 Afghans have fled their homes in search of refuge or escape, ”the statement said.
“They join six million Afghan refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs) already forced to move by decades of conflict and with little hope of return. Most of those fleeing Afghanistan are now women whose rights and freedoms are even more threatened and children whose future is now threatened.
Nearly 60 mayors around the world have signed, including three mayors from California on Friday: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.