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Multiple planes intended to transport hundreds of people who say they fear life under Taliban rule, including US citizens and green card holders, spent another day parked at an airstrip in northern Afghanistan on Monday.
Marina Legre, CEO of ascend, a nonprofit that teaches young Afghan women to drive through mountain climbing and other athletics, told NPR’s Jackie Northam that many Afghans affiliated with her group remained stuck. That was in addition to more than 600 others, including at least 19 US citizens and two US green card holders, Leggeri said.
Among the hundreds of stranded travelers are members of non-governmental organizations, journalists and women at risk, according to LeGree.
These travelers have now spent seven days waiting for permission to take off, said Legery, from her home in Italy, staying near the airport in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
On Sunday, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News that the Taliban are holding people “hostage” and that there are “six planes carrying American citizens while I speak.”
While LeGree confirmed it had been told there were six planes in total, it made clear that passengers are not waiting “physically on board” the planes.
NPR has not been able to independently confirm details of the situation in Mazar-i-Sharif.
McCaul said the Taliban did not allow the planes to leave until their “demands” were met, possibly in the form of “money or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.”
A State Department spokesperson, Michelle Kleiman, told NPR that the United States stands ready to assist all remaining US citizens, green card holders, and at-risk Afghans who wish to leave.
On Monday, a State Department official said the United States “facilitated the safe departure of four Americans via land routes” that day. The official did not identify the Americans, nor did he specify the country to which they were transferred.
But the ministry also said it discourages charter planes because – with no more personnel left on the ground in Afghanistan – it has not been able to properly confirm the planes’ passenger data.
An Afghan official at Mazar-i-Sharif airport said Associated Press Many Afghan travelers did not have passports or visas.
The US government says everyone accessing US military bases should be screened due to security concerns.
Legere said her understanding from speaking with sources on the ground was that the key issue now was the negotiation between the Taliban and Kam Air, which operates the flights, over the cost of using the airport.