RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Less than three weeks after Fort Lee began welcoming Afghan translators and their families, America’s evacuation plan faces unparalleled pressure as the Taliban regains control of the war-torn nation.
After the Pentagon reportedly initially suspended evacuation flights bound for the military installation outside Petersburg, Virginia Monday, a man who translated for American troops told 8News he fears receiving a fateful knock at the door.
“I’m scared maybe the Taliban is coming, to knock the door, and searching about and maybe they will come and kill me,” the 32-year-old man told 8News Monday.
We are not sharing his name for security concerns.
The translator said he has awaited a decision from the U.S. government after applying for a special immigrant visa in 2014; he said he translated Persian for U.S. troops from 2010 to 2013.
Out of concern a paper trail may lead to militants discovering his true identity, he said he has “burned all of my paperwork this morning.”
After Taliban fighters started populating city streets in the now-fallen Afghan capital of Kabul, women, girls and men who worked with American forces are pleading for their immigration visas to be expedited.
“We don’t have much more time to speed this process,” the translator said. “I cannot think the US failed because this is a long process… I feel they have a lot of applicants that have already applied.”
Just 2,000 Afghan allies and their families have been evacuated to safety, with tens of thousands more waiting in the visa pipeline.
The Taliban’s swift takeover has stunned many, including President Biden who admitted to the miscalculation Monday afternoon.
At the The Mantu restaurant in Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood, Owner and Chef Hamidallah Noori told 8News he fears for his family’s life.
“I feel like we’re back in the same or worse situation than we were facing,” he said.
Noori said his father and uncle were killed by Taliban fighters, when he was a child.
After having to help take care of his family at eight years old, he began butchering animals to make money.
The work culminated into an early career as a chef; often cooking for American contractors. It’s that work as a chef Noori fears may jeopardize his own family’s safety.
“Out of those families [members] I was only one to work with the United States. They don’t feel safe because of me…“ Noori said. “I feel like I put their life in danger.”
President Biden defended the timeline to evacuate Afghans, saying it did not begin earlier because “some“ didn’t want to leave.
Though, Biden did vow to continue the effort to evacuate Americans and American allies.
There is no indication when the next buses will arrive to Fort Lee.