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Where is Kareem? The Story Unfolds of Souls Trapped in Taliban-Run Afghanistan

As the situation in Afghanistan crescendoed into chaos late last August, I was introduced to Kareem via email. As Operations Manager for Catholic News Agency, I monitor the email account to which he sent his plea for safety: “My name is [Kareem]. I am a Christian. Please help me,” he wrote. “I have no one without you. You are my last hope.” 

Though we were worlds away, our lives were about to become closer than we imagined. For the next week until the last American troops withdrew, I ducked out of dinners with friends early and stayed awake nights to watch, wait, pray for and communicate with Kareem. 

Contacts among humanitarian groups promised hour by hour that it would be possible to get him on a plane if we could respond with enough speed. But slowly the hours elapsed and the flight never materialized. 

We would need to find another way for this Christian to flee

Kareem is a survivor. He survived the murder of his father and brother, the disappearance of his mother, and the suicide bombing outside Abbey Gate that claimed almost 200 lives, 13 of them U.S. military members. He survived Taliban patrols making rounds at night outside the airport by sleeping in garbage dumpsters and the feeling of despair when the last American plane left Kabul. 

Because his story is emblematic of the entire Afghanistan crisis, I often receive questions about the fate of Kareem. Where is Kareem?

The sensitive nature of reporting on rescues in Afghanistan makes this a difficult question to answer. I am not at liberty to give the details of his whereabouts, but in every story from Afghanistan I see the fate of so many Kareems unfolding. 

In the reports of starving and emaciated children, dying of hunger, I see Kareem. This winter, according to the Wall Street Journal, Afghanistan will face its worst famine in 35 years. Richard Trenchard, director of Afghanistan’s arm of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, says that roughly 23 of the 38 million population are already facing food insecurity so grave they do not know where their next meal will come from. The head of World Food Programme told the BBC that fully 95% of Afghans don’t have enough food. Without outside assistance, nearly half of Afghanistan’s population is “marching towards starvation,” he said. 

Read more at National Catholic Register

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