Canadians left in Kabul running out of food, time, hope

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Global Affairs Canada asking citizens they left behind if they want to be identified to ‘local governing’ Taliban

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“They’re scared for their lives.”

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Canadian citizens left stranded after airlifts out of Kabul ended two weeks ago are quickly losing hope, particularly as allies continue evacuating their citizens via another city.

One woman, whose elderly, Canadian citizen parents from Toronto are trapped in Kabul, told the Toronto Sun they now live in a state of fear — particularly after Global Affairs Canada (GAC) offered to reveal her parents’ location to “local authorities.”

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In other words, the Taliban.

“I said absolutely not,” she said.

“That would actually just make them a target.”

Foreigners, particularly North Americans, are often targeted by kidnappers seeking large ransoms — something she knows first hand after her brother was kidnapped while visiting Afghanistan a few years ago.

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“We had to track him down and pay a ransom, but now it’s 10 times worse,” she said.

Aggravating the situation is her parents’ four decades of living in Canada now mean they can’t blend in with locals.

“It’s the mannerisms, the way they speak, their clothes — you can tell rather quickly,” she said.

Discouraging still are reports of other foreigners being evacuated via Mazar-i-Sharif, a precarious 11-hour drive from Kabul.

“They asked me, ‘Are we supposed to be headed over there, too?’” the woman said.

“I didn’t want to tell them to go to Mazar-i-Sharif, which is an 11-hour drive, and wait there like they did at the Baron Hotel.”

Her parents have twice followed directions from Global Affairs.

Evacuees were initially ordered wear the colour red and present themselves to soldiers at the airport’s north gate.

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Crushing crowds prevented the frail couple from getting close, while others were turned away by American troops.

On Aug. 23, evacuees received direction to meet at the Baron Hotel where Canadian consular officials were waiting.

All her parents found were hostile crowds and unfriendly American soldiers, who turned the elderly couple away at gunpoint.

Two weeks later, they’re watching other foreigners get whisked to safety while they stare at empty email inboxes.

“Canada’s evacuation operations from Kabul have ended,” topped nearly every GAC email.

“The security situation remains unstable, especially around the airport. Until the security situation has stabilized, you are encouraged to shelter in a safe place.”

Despite campaign-trail assurances by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that wheels were turning behind the scenes, GAC’s emails stress that no further evacuations are planned, and “you are responsible for your own safety.”

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On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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