Kabul, afghanistan – For the past three days, Yasna Haqparast has been standing in front of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport with her husband and two children.
Every day, as they wait by the divider between the airport and the Stars Wedding Hall, Haqparast and his family hear the sound of gunfire as members of the Taliban fire round after round in the air, trying to disperse the hundreds of families. gathered outside the closed airport.
Haqparast and his family had fled the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, one of the last urban centers to fall to the Taliban last week, and were hoping to head to Canada on Sunday night. However, when they arrived at the airport, they came face to face with a calamity.
“There was an avalanche of people, all pushing against each other,” Haqparast said of the thousands of people who crowded around the airport the night President Ashraf Ghani fled and the Taliban arrived in the capital, Kabul.
Sources told Al Jazeera that the airport has suffered serious damage that will take some time to repair. They said security scanners broke as a result of the sea of people passing them, and that the interior of the international terminal and gates also need repair.
It wasn’t just the people desperate to board commercial flights to Dubai and Istanbul, or private evacuation flights to the United States and the United Kingdom, that were piling up around the airport, there were also looters.
Fahim, a government worker who was trying to board a flight to Istanbul, said the impact of Ghani’s departure was immediate.
“As soon as they found out he was gone, everyone left their posts,” he said of people ranging from government ministers to police in the city, even near the airport. He said thieves took advantage of the chaos and insecurity.
“They would steal your luggage from your hands,” said both Fahim and Haqparast.
Haqparast said in the mad rush to maneuver through the crowd rushing through the many checkpoints and thieves, people lost track of their belongings.
“We were running so fast that what wasn’t stolen somehow fell from our hands and pockets.”
She said her family’s documents, passports and money fell somewhere on the concrete roads leading to the international terminal.
But he said the worst part of the ordeal was seeing the horrific scenes that went viral on social media, including video footage that appeared to show young men grabbing a US military plane before plummeting while ascending through the air.
With no money to return to Mazar and without his documents, Haqparast said his family is forced to sleep “on the ground” outside the airport until it reopens.
However, without tickets, passports or visas, even once the airport is back to business as usual, it will be difficult to access.
Standing just a few feet from Haqparast is a young man with a white piranha grave and a black New York Yankees cap. He smiles in disbelief when a Taliban member drives a crowd back by waving a plastic tube.
Trying to avoid the flood of people fleeing the pipe of the Taliban fighters, the man, in his 20s, did not give his name, but said he had previously worked for the Canadian Special Forces.
He said he, too, was destined for an evacuation flight, but has been stuck outside the airport for days.
But he, like Haqparast, saw a stark contrast between him and the hundreds of people trying to pass the roundabout and walk into the well-guarded airport, as well as the hundreds more who are stationed outside a luxurious wedding hall in front of the airport. Entrance.
“I would say that between 90 and 95 percent of these people do not have documents,” he said, coinciding with a statement by Haqparast.
Haqparast is especially angered by reports that people without any documents, including passports, were able to board planes and leave the country.
“It is not fair, they are occupying the places that belong to desperate people,” he says of the men, women and children who have gathered near the airport since Sunday.
But not only the people trying to get on evacuation flights were stuck. Afghans with double passports trying to board commercial flights waited in drones for hours.
The family of an elderly former diplomat said the 80-something-year-old man was left on a plane bound for Istanbul for more than 14 hours, much of him without food, water, medicine or power to charge his mobile phone.
Another former Presidential Palace worker was trapped at the airport for more than eight hours. Although he arrived in a car with a black government license plate, he had to leave with another former palace worker in a “plain” car late Saturday night, early Sunday morning.
Both former officials were afraid to return home and stayed in nondescript houses in the capital until their respective countries could help them get out of Kabul.
Haqparast, the woman traveling with her husband and two children, blamed the Afghan airline staff, who allegedly disappeared at one point, the American and British soldiers, who had taken responsibility for the airport, and the Taliban for the chaos.
He also criticized foreign countries for unclear visa processes and vague promises to resettle thousands of people.
“Everyone thinks in some way that a country will accept them, but they have nothing with them. There is no evidence of any kind. “
But his guilt extends beyond the past few months.
“Look how they handled this war, you have to come and see what they created,” he said as the repeated sounds of gunfire echoed throughout the area.