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Former Afghan translator for US military stuck in Kabul, waiting to return to Colorado

His brother says they came to Colorado as refugees five years ago
US military in Afghanistan
Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 18, 2021

DENVER — For 11 years, Sahil Safi worked alongside the U.S. military as a translator in Afghanistan, putting his life on the line.

"Every day was a risk to myself and my family, and finally, I decided to leave and start a better life for myself and family in the United States," Safi said.

His younger brother took a similar path after also serving as an interpreter. Both of them moved to Colorado as refugees five years ago and are currently residents, but over the last few weeks, everything changed.

"He went to visit my parents in Afghanistan two months ago and he was supposed to be back by last week, but their flight canceled and all of a sudden the Taliban, they took control," Safi said.

Since then, he’s been stuck, and because of poor signal, Safi’s communication with his brother has been sporadic.

"He is out of patience, and he can’t wait to get out of the country because there is no way, no hope," Safi said.

The process of getting to the airport comes with a host of challenges. Being a former interpreter, Safi’s brother is a target for the Taliban, and getting through checkpoints and road blocks comes with risks.

"He was called to present himself with this family to the airport where the U.S. military are deployed at the airport. When he went to the airport, there was a rush of people. People were trying to get in, so it was very, very hard to get in," Safi said.

The U.S. Embassy announced they can’t ensure safe passage to the airport either. Secretary of State Lloyd Austin said they’re working to get everyone with the right credentials on board a plane.

"We will continue to coordinate and deconflict with the Taliban and make sure that those folks, those people who need to get to the airfield, have the right credentials to ensure passage," Austin said. "The Taliban has been checking those credentials, and if they have them, they have allowed them to pass."

For now, Safi’s brother’s fate rests on the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Taliban. Still, there's no sign of when he or other U.S citizens and people with special immigrant visas will be able to come home..

"My request and my position for U.S. leadership is to just evacuate them as soon as possible," Safi said. "I think this is our moral obligation."