Six San Diego-area families stranded for days in Afghanistan make it out

People walking toward evacuation flights in Kabul, Afghanistan
Families walk toward their evacuation flights during the airlift in Kabul, Afghanistan.
(Sgt. Samuel Ruiz / U.S. Marine Corps)

Six families from a San Diego suburb have now made it safely out of Afghanistan after they went to the country earlier this summer to visit relatives and got stuck there amid the chaos following the Taliban’s takeover, officials said Monday.

But the whereabouts of two other families from El Cajon remained unclear. One family may have gotten on one of the last U.S. flights out of Afghanistan on Monday, while authorities were working to help the other family, which was still in the country, the Cajon Valley Union School District said.

The last U.S. planes departed around midnight Monday night, marking the end of a massive airlift in which tens of thousands of people fled Afghanistan, fearful of the return of Taliban rule after it seized power earlier this month.


“We are still holding out hope” that the families can get out, said Howard Shen, spokesman for the Cajon Valley Union School District.

Sayed Omer Sadat thinks about what would have happened to his three daughters had the Taliban seized him because of his work for the U.S. military.

Aug. 30, 2021

The district learned Aug. 16 that eight families with children enrolled in the district were stranded in Afghanistan after a relative of one of the families alerted school officials that their children would miss the first day of the school year, which began Aug. 17.

El Cajon has a large refugee population, and the families had gone to Afghanistan in May and early June, weeks before the crisis unfolded. They were not part of an organized trip and traveled separately.

Three of the families were able to get out last week and make it back to El Cajon. Several of their children returned to school Monday to the open arms of their teachers and classmates, the district said.

Three more families also made it safely out but were still on their way back to the U.S., according to the district.