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More than 30 California kids still stuck in Afghanistan after US forces leave

Report says more than 30 children from the US state of California remain stuck in Afghanistan as they traveled to the country to see their relatives weeks before the crisis over the disastrous US withdrawal.

Nearly all of the children returned to Afghanistan with one or both parents in the spring or early summer to visit relatives. 

Officials with three California school districts said Wednesday that they have been in contact with the families who fear they have been forgotten by the US government. The officials said that some of the children were born in the United States and are US citizens.

Many of the families arrived in the US years ago after obtaining special immigrant visas granted to Afghans who had worked for the US government or military.

Some of the families told school district officials that they had made attempts to get on planes at the airport in Kabul, but were stuck by Taliban checkpoints or crowds of Afghans surrounding the airport over the past two weeks.

The last US flight out of Afghanistan departed from the capital city of Kabul on Monday, marking the end of the 20-year US occupation of  Afghanistan that culminated in the Taliban taking control of most of the country.

In Sacramento in Northern California, the San Juan Union School District said it had identified 27 students from 19 families enrolled in the district who said they have been unable to get out of Afghanistan and return home.

“These numbers continue to change rapidly,” Raj Rai, a district spokeswoman said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We believe that some of these families may be in transit out of Afghanistan, as we have not been able to reach many of them in the last few days.”

The nearby Sacramento City Unified School District said an Afghan immigrant family with three children had contacted the district to ask for help in getting out of the country.

“The only word I can say is heartbreaking,” said district spokeswoman Tara Gallegos.

The disastrous US withdrawal has prompted rage and anger in the country, with many senior American officials calling for President Biden and military chiefs to resign.

Nearly 90 retired US generals and admirals called on Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to resign for their roles surrounding the chaotic pullout.

The retired top-ranking military officials said in a letter that as principal military advisors to President Biden, Austin and Milley “should have recommended against this dangerous withdrawal in the strongest possible terms.”

“If they did not do everything within their authority to stop the hasty withdrawal, they should resign,” they wrote.

The retired flag officers proposed what they felt should have happened in the withdrawal, including not rushing the pullout and not abandoning the Bagram Air Base, and American weapons and military equipment in the hands of the Taliban.

President Biden also faces calls to resign or be impeached as those from all political backgrounds have criticized him for his handling of the botched US withdrawal.

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