“When the plane took off, I felt relieved, but also overcome with infinite sadness and frustration,” says Masooda Mehdizada. In one week, this Afghan Canadian made three attempts to flee Kabul with her two children aged 10 and 12.

She did not succeed until August 21, on an evacuation flight. Upset by the fall of her country of origin again in the hands of the Taliban, she is also sorry for the disorganization and the slowness of Canada to evacuate its nationals.

On the morning of August 15, rumors were already spreading. She decides to go to a meeting anyway, but the crowded streets force her to turn back. “I called my friend to say that I couldn’t get to [temps]. He said to me: “You don’t need to come any more, go home.” “

She tries to switch to the bank, foreseeing that she will probably need cash: “It was already impossible, since there were hundreds of people online already. This is where it all happens. Another friend calls him: “The Taliban are at the gates of Kabul. I’m trying to find you plane tickets, get ready, ”says the mother.

With her two children, it will take her more than two hours to reach the airport, and the doors are already wide open. “You could feel in the air that nothing was going well,” recounts the woman.

The pilot of his commercial flight scheduled for 6 p.m. that evening refuses to fly, the tarmac at the airport is already crowded.

On the same day, the Canadian Embassy suspended its operations in Kabul. ” President [Ashraf Ghani] was already running away, we had not even seen 100 Taliban in our city yet. The chain of command has collapsed. It’s as if everyone had already agreed in advance that the city was taken, ”she describes.

Masooda Mehdizada decides to stay with a group of friends already gathered in the airport. Terrorized, they feel stronger in a group.

The story repeats itself

This is already the second time that the Canado-Afghan has witnessed the capture of Kabul by the Taliban. The first time was in September 1996, she was 13 years old. In class, his teacher asked the students to go home: “We may not see each other again,” he told them.

The jihadist fighters then disembark by the hundreds in vans. “They were so visible. They were parading. This time, on August 15, they were invisible, but in everyone’s mind. The government had already capitulated, even if it had been able to resist, ”she said, moved.

It’s as if everyone had already agreed in advance that the city was taken

She felt “cheated” by the Afghan authorities, notably by President Ghani. Yes, she said, the withdrawal of the last American troops, which began last May, has allowed the Taliban to gain ground. But the institutions have been weakened, almost “on purpose” with the appointment “of completely inexperienced and incompetent people,” Mr.me In Mahdiza.

She comes from a fundamentally political family, she says. Arriving in Canada in 2003, she did graduate studies in the territory, including a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

In 2014, she decided to return to Kabul. “I had this strong emotional connection. I have always been keen to help the country, ”she explains.

Life there was pretty good, where it was easy to socialize and be part of a strong community of spirit. A return to Canada was on his radar, especially for his children, “but I never thought I would leave in such chaos. “

Find a way to quit

The small family therefore cannot leave the country on August 15 as planned and takes refuge with an uncle for nearly a week. The next day, August 16, images of people trying to hang on to a taking off plane went around the world. Mme Mehdizada calls all emergency numbers to put her family on the evacuation lists.

On August 16, she wrote to her Toronto MP Kirsty Duncan: “I am writing to you from Kabul, I am taken with my children. We are in great danger and we are very afraid. Here are my contact details and my passport. We have no other way out. Help us, please ”

It was not until three days later that she received an answer, which was limited to directing her to a general emergency line where she had already called several times. “I had the impression that the Afghans were left to their fate. “

On August 18, she tried her luck again at the airport. Tear gas is sent to the crowd gathered around the barriers. Her son has trouble breathing and they leave in fear and haste.

“I just can’t understand how Canada could be so disorganized. They had to be notified by their intelligence services, ”she laments. His friends were leaving one by one, for Europe or the United States. She even considered leaving by road for Pakistan: “But it was too risky. And now women cannot walk around without a man. This is the Taliban country. “

Then on the 21st, she finally managed to reach the airport, still uncertain that a flight was waiting for her. When the plane finally takes off, she hugs her children.

A different kind of weight and worry descends on her when she arrives in Toronto. Between the guilt of being safe and the will to act, she now seeks to help others leave the country at all costs.

Minister Marc Garneau said Tuesday that 1,250 Canadians, citizens or permanent residents, are still in Afghanistan.

And now the deadline of August 31 rang. “I get calls for help every day and my heart is broken. I’m not doing well at all. Women are back within four walls, it’s very depressing. Friends write to me, they no longer know who to trust, ”she confides.

It is too early for hope to return, but one thing is certain, Masooda Mehdizada will not stand idly by.

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