Toronto man feels 'abandoned' by Canadian government as he tries to escape Afghanistan

·4 min read
Afghans crowd onto the tarmac of the Kabul airport on Aug. 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. (AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
Afghans crowd onto the tarmac of the Kabul airport on Aug. 16, 2021, to flee the country as the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan. (AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

A Toronto man says he feels "abandoned" by Global Affairs Canada as he attempts to escape Afghanistan after members of the Taliban showed up to his family home in Kabul.

CBC News has agreed not to reveal the identity of the man, who is self-employed in Canada, over concerns for his safety. He is now stranded at Kabul's international airport with thousands of other people trying to get out of the country.

He said he travelled to Europe with his wife and four children, but his trip was cut short when he had to return to Kabul on Aug. 3 to be with his sick mother. His wife and children are still in Denmark.

"I'm at risk, great risk. Every moment something may happen," he told CBC News during a WhatsApp call.

This past Sunday, he heard Taliban fighters were entering Kabul and rushed to the airport but he couldn't get a flight out.

The rush by thousands of foreign nationals and many Afghans to leave began after the Taliban took back control of the country from the Afghan government, capturing all major cities, including the capital on Sunday, ending two decades of war with the U.S., Canada and other western allies. Many Afghans who worked with the foreigners fear the Taliban will imprison or kill them as collaborators. They're also worried about the safety of their families.

Speaking Tuesday, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Canada has "no plans" to recognize the Taliban regime as the legitimate government in Afghanistan. Trudeau also said the federal government's focus continues to be on getting Afghans who worked for the Canadian military and federal agencies out of the country safely.

But the man said he's had to ask U.S. troops at the airport if they could airlift him out. He said they told him they were only accepting American passport holders. He said he also reached out to the Pakistan consulate for refuge but hasn't heard back yet.

On Monday, hundreds ran alongside a U.S. Air Force plane as it moved down a runway at Kabul's international airport. At least seven people are reported to have died while attempting to hold on to the jet as it took off, according to U.S. officials.

WATCH | Desperate Afghans flock to airport in bid to flee country:

The Toronto man told CBC News he ended up sleeping between the runway and taxiway at the Kabul airport Sunday night.

"I spent the whole night without water, without food, without anything," he said. "On my left was the Taliban. I was stuck with hundreds of people there."

He said he emailed and called the emergency line at Global Affairs several times, with no response at first. His friend in Canada was eventually able to get him on a conference call with a Global Affairs emergency line operator, who said they were limited in the assistance they could provide.

The man said he asked to speak to a superior but the operator said they were busy with another call.

"Technically, I'm abandoned by Global Affairs Canada," he said.

CBC News reached out to Global Affairs for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

On Monday, the man went to his mother's house where his brothers and other family members are living. They are all Afghan nationals.

The man said that night, the Taliban stopped by the family home searching for his brothers who have done work for the international community. He said he and his brothers hid for about two hours. He hopes Canada can also help his family escape and seek refuge.

"We are in a big chaotic situation. My siblings are in big trouble."

He said on Tuesday, Global Affairs told him there is still no further update on evacuation plans and that he should complete the registration form for Canadians abroad, which he has already done.

The man said he's hearing rumours that the Taliban will start conducting passport checks once American troops completely withdraw from Afghanistan, and worries for his safety as a Canadian.

"The more I wait, the more stable they [the Taliban] are," he said.

"The more stable they are, the more danger for me."

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