KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban is back in control in Afghanistan in a shockingly swift takeover following the U.S. withdrawal of forces in the 20-year U.S.-led war.
Many are now scrambling to flee the country as concerns mount over what the future holds under the notoriously oppressive regime.
Chaotic scenes of desperation played out at an airport in Kabul Monday.
People were clinging on to a U.S. Air Force plane as it prepared for departure. At least seven people were killed as many rushed to flee the country once again under the control of the notoriously oppressive regime.
Jackie Faye has been working on and off in Afghanistan since 2015 as a journalist and founded the nonprofit called She Can Tri. The nonprofit helped Afghanistan's women train for triathletes for the first time.
“I don't think a day has gone by this week that I haven't been in tears as I watched the situation unfold. I feel like I'm gonna cry just talking about it now,” said Faye.
Faye says one of her athletes who left Afghanistan and moved to the United States just last week after earning a scholarship for school was terrified for her family back home.
“She was holding my hand and she says, 'You know, my body is in America, but my heart is in Afghanistan.' She was talking about her parents and she was fearful. She's like, ‘I don't know if I'll ever see them again,’” said Faye.
She says another one of her She Can Tri athletes heading to the U.S. on a student visa nearly made on a plane during the chaos Monday.
“When she got to the airport, there was massive amounts of people on the runway. She's calling me, leaving me, you know, these voice messages; she was clearly scared.”
Aaron Karp, senior political science lecturer at Old Dominion University, says many Afghanis fear retribution under Taliban control.
"After getting American citizens where they need to be, getting them safe, the second problem is how do you deal with the Afghans who had been helping America — some of them loyal for 20 years. What happens to those people?"
U.S. forces are on their way out of the country after two decades of occupation, following the Trump administration's decision to negotiate a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban.
President Joe Biden doubled down on his decision to follow through on the Trump administration’s agreement to withdraw forces.
“It’s wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own military troops would not,” said Biden.
The Taliban’s swift takeover has many fearful of what’s to come.
“What's going to be the fate of the middle classes? What's going to be the fate of people who worked with the United States and with U.S. allies in the country? What's going to be the fate of women? All of this, we don't really know. We're going to find out,” said Karp.
Faye urges people to be hopeful and take action.
“Just simply write a letter, or call your lawmakers, or make a donation to a nonprofit that's helping on the ground. There are things that you can do that are actionable.”