Published:August 24, 2021
Canada’s latest Kabul rescue effort left those trying to flee the embattled city wondering why they’re being left to fend for themselves in the Taliban-controlled city.
And again, the Toronto Sun has learned American soldiers continue to turn away would-be evacuees, preventing them from getting to safety.
This latest effort commenced Monday with three emails from Global Affairs Canada labelled as “urgent,” instructing those desperate to leave to immediately make their way to a hotel near the city’s airport, check in at the front gates and ask to speak with a Canadian official.
The Sun is withholding the hotel’s name given security concerns.
Among those who followed the instructions were an elderly Toronto couple featured in the Sun whose efforts to reach the airport’s American-controlled north gate — despite wearing red clothing as suggested — were met with crushing crowds and soldiers pointing rifles at them.
Another would-be evacuee, an Afghan citizen whose service with the Canadian military earned him safe passage out of Kabul, told the Sun he was brutally beaten by Taliban fighters waiting for evacuees to arrive at the hotel.
He said that while the United States, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany are transporting their evacuees to their planes via buses, Canadian officials continue to expect their evacuees — regardless of their mobility or health — to make their way through Kabul’s dangerous streets to safety.
“My cousins worked for the U.S. armies, who are planning to take their (evacuees) through on a special bus,” he said.
The Toronto couple, who requested anonymity for safety, reported enduring a two-hour taxi ride through Taliban checkpoints Monday evening, only to be turned away by U.S. troops outside of the hotel, standing on the far side of an open sewage canal running along the perimeter.
The Sun is withholding the hotel’s name out of security concerns.
A GAC rep reached via a consular hotline proved less than helpful, the couple’s son-in-law told the Sun.
“All they said was to keep trying to go to the front gates and find a Canadian official, even though we told the person on the phone several times that we were turned away,” he said.
“He said that was all the information that he had at the time, and he was sorry.”
The couple persisted in their request to see a Canadian official, resulting in the U.S. soldier becoming hostile and ordering them away.
Word had gotten out at that point, as the square — and even the sewage canal — soon filled with people trying to flee the city.
After waiting more than 12 hours for a Canadian consular official who would never show up, the couple reluctantly returned home.
“They will not try this again,” the son-in-law said.
“This was supposed to be the easy, accessibly assisted version of the evacuation plan to help the more vulnerable Canadian afghans.
“They never even saw one Canadian official, period.”