Dozens Gather in Dallas to Demand Safe Passage For Loved Ones in Afghanistan

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Dozens gathered to demand safe passage to the Kabul airport for loved ones in Afghanistan, at a protest Saturday at Belo Garden in Dallas.

“I have half my family there in Afghanistan. My whole father’s side is there," said Neelab, who did not want to use her last name.

She said that includes people with master's degrees, doctors and pharmacists -- people who've supported the United States.

It also includes women who are now forced to wear burkas, she said. Many of her family members have been stuck inside of their homes and those who've tried to escape have been unsuccessful.

"I just had cousins who tried to make it through the airport but they were attacked, tear-gassed, beaten. My 15-year-old cousin was hit by the Taliban’s weapons, their guns. They’re shooting at people," Neelab said.

Feeling helpless, she's helping organizations that support refugees in the hopes they can eventually help her family escape.

Nearly a week into the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, new images emerged of desperation and danger around Kabul's airport as evacuation efforts continue.

“It’s very numbing to watch,” Grand Prairie resident Diana Neak said.

Neak works with the organization Afghan Unity DFW and has family in Kabul.

Since the Taliban seized control, Neak said her aunt and female cousins haven't worked or attended school, and that relatives are destroying hard copies of important documents.

“So they’re burning any kind of document that shows that they work for the U.S. or any other foreign entity, anything that could possibly put their lives at risk,” Neak said.

Contrasting with chaos seen in the streets, Friday President Joe Biden painted a more upbeat picture and made a pledge.

“Let me be clear, any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” he said, extending that to Afghan citizens who worked with the American military.

"Yes. Yes, we are making the same commitment,” Biden said.

“What he’s saying and what is happening on the ground is miles apart,” Neak said.

Neak said her cousin in Afghanistan, who worked as a linguist with U.S. Armed Forces, has been cleared to leave but can't safely get to the airport.

“It really makes you feel like hopeless, helpless, there’s no other option left for the people that live there,” Neak said.

Friday night, dozens attended a virtual prayer vigil for people affected by the crisis.

It was hosted by Gateway of Grace church in Dallas which serves traditional Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of refugee families each year.

It’s one of many groups ready and willing to welcome Afghans as soon as possible.

Refugee Services of Texas says 47 Afghans, or 18 families resettled in Dallas from August 1-17.

More than 300 people are expected in Texas in the coming weeks.

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