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Former diplomats living in Kansas City raise money to help Afghan allies flee Taliban

Posted at 4:35 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 19:22:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two former U.S. diplomats living in the Kansas City area are raising money to help Afghan allies escape Afghanistan.

"I have people who are supposed to be on those planes, who are on the manifest for those planes and are stranded and stuck and scared and my heart hurts for them," said Jennifer Vitela, who served as a diplomat in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2011. "If this isn't going to work, let's find another solution."

The Taliban has reportedly prevented several planes from leaving the country that would have evacuated Afghan allies, along with a few Americans.

Vitela said the solution is a fundraising campaign that would pay travel expenses for American and Afghan allies to safely leave Afghanistan. Donations are being collected through the United Way of Greater Kansas City.

Since the Taliban took control of the country, Vitela said people she worked with in Afghanistan are now hiding in fear of their lives.

"One of my former coworkers, his cousin went out on a route shortly before he was going to go that route and the Taliban found him and they murdered his cousin right there on the spot," Vitela said.

Abbas Kamwand also hears similar stories from people he knows in Afghanistan. Kamwand, a native of the country, moved to the United States more than 30 years ago. He served as a diplomat to Afghanistan between 2013 and 2015.

Social media posts and emails from people still in the country inform him of the situation with the country now under Taliban control.

"When atrocity happens too long in your life, you become numb to what you call pain," Kamwand said.

The former diplomats hope the fundraising effort can rescue people who served America and that a promise made to Afghan allies is kept.

"We are not going to leave you alone. We are not going to left you behind," Kamwand said.