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'They’re living in fear of their lives' | Afghan American fears for family in Kabul

“They live in basements, they live off the streets, they don’t have any food."

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Sacramento area is home to thousands of Afghan immigrants and refugees, like Bahram Khalil, who goes by Kevin. He and his parents came to the United States in 2015 through the Special Immigrant Visa program for Afghans who had worked with U.S. Armed Forces. Unfortunately, Khalil’s parents had to return in 2016 and have not been able to make it back since.

Khalil said his parents, brother, sister and her sister’s husband and children are all in Kabul now.

“My entire remaining family in Kabul is currently staying in a basement. As of a couple hours ago, I have lost any forms of communication with them. I’m not sure if the power’s out or the electricity is out -- what’s going on. I am trying not to let it get to me because I would rather be able to help them instead of just sitting around and cry. God knows, I haven’t slept for days, and I’m trying to hold on as much as possible,” he said.

Fortunately, Khalil was able to make contact again. However, their predicament is a trying one.

“I don’t know how to deal with the situation, and you know, I still feel privileged. I feel lucky that I am here, but there are millions of people that aren’t.”

He knows people in his home country are living in dire situations right now.

“They live in basements, they live off the streets, they don’t have any food, they don’t have any water, they don’t have anything, and they’re living in fear of their lives. They live in fear of getting killed,” Khalil said.

Now, he has guilt.

“I personally feel like I have failed them. I feel like we have failed them as people, as a country. You know, democracy has failed them. For them to be treated this way in this time, I didn’t’ see coming,” Khalil said.

He thinks the U.S. government could have handled the withdrawal better.

“I personally think that the Biden administration and the leaders of this country should have taken a little bit more time to make these decisions because, like I said, it affects millions of lives. And it did. And it put them into chaos and risk of losing their lives, which many have already,” he said.

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