LAWRENCE, Kan. – As unrest continues in Afghanistan, Afghan people continue to seek safety.
A reported 122,000 Afghan citizens have fled the country, which is now under Taliban control. The terrorist group took over control of the nation’s capital city Kabul in late August.
Thousands of miles from the Middle East, 22-year-old Baset Azizi is breathing easier, knowing his family escaped their native nation.
Azizi studies music and political science at the University of Kansas. He left Kabul six years ago, taking an opportunity to finish high school in the United States.
“I haven’t seen them in six years,” Azizi told FOX4 News on Monday.
Azizi’s parents and three sisters escaped Afghanistan nine days after terrorists took control. They’re due to arrive in the United States soon, where they’ll seek U.S. citizenship, as well as a long list of basic needs.
The Azizi family, like so many displaced people who run for their lives, were forced to evacuate with only the clothes on their backs.
Azizi’s father is a retired colonel in the Afghan Army, a decorated soldier who collaborated with United States forces during peacekeeping missions.
This summer, Baset Azizi accepted a congressional internship on Capitol Hill. A candid photo of Azizi, who was dressed professionally and posing in front of the U.S. Capitol, came in handy when his family was challenged by Taliban troops at Kabul’s airport.
Terrorist soldiers refused to allow the family to board a flight to safety, despite having their travel credentials up to regulation. Azizi said one of his sisters presented the photo, claiming her brother was a United States congressman. The trick worked and the Azizi family flew to a safe location in the Middle East where they await travel to the U.S.
“I knew their lives would be in great danger if they didn’t leave the country. Once I learned that Kabul had collapsed, that’s when I started working hard to see that they could leave the country,” Azizi said.
Azizi is about to complete his education at KU. He said it’s taken coordination with elected officials to secure safe passage for his loved ones.
“They are educated people, and they want to give back,” Azizi said.
When violence forces a family to leave their home nation, they often leave with nothing. They typically reach their new home with great needs and no connection to resources.
Organizers at Refuge KC see this on a consistent basis, according to Richard Casebolt, the group’s director. He points out that people often flee with as little as they can carry. Refuge KC helps welcome and minister to displaced people when they arrive in the Kansas City metro.
“I love the term refuge. It’s from the Psalms. “God is our refuge and strength,” Casebolt said. “We want people to feel safe here. That’s what we want for ourselves.”
Azizi said his family will eventually settle in the Lawrence area. For now, they’re awaiting final word from the U.S. government as to when they’ll travel. Azizi said he plans a future in public service, where someday, he might help people with the same set of needs.
Basic infrastructure was breaking down as the Azizi family left Kabul. That includes banking systems, from which, they had no access to their savings. There’s a GoFundMe account established to help the Azizis get started once they arrive in Kansas.