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‘We are afraid’: Afghan women in Utah share fears for family members still in Afghanistan

Posted at 4:55 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 19:36:05-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE — In the front room at the nonprofit Women of the World in South Salt Lake, a group of women sit and talk about what’s happening in Afghanistan. The Afghan women talk about family and loved ones still in Afghanistan and their fears for the future.

“I am really scared. The first day I heard the Taliban came to the capital, I was crying,” said Karima Ali, whose sister, nieces and uncles live in Afghanistan. "We were trying to get ahold of my sister and my uncles, and none of them were answering.

Ali said the Taliban has moved right in front of her sister’s home.

“We are afraid they are going to kidnap [my nieces] or force them to marry one of the Taliban,” she said.

READ: Native Afghan, U of U professor on mounting concern in Afghanistan

Ali and her family here in the United States are trying to do everything to get her loved ones out of Afghanistan but are not having any luck. The process can take years, she said, and time is not something they have.

“My hope is that America is able to bring my sister and other families that are dealing with the risk, families like my sister, to be able to come here,” she said.

Utah is ready to welcome refugees from Afghanistan, Gov. Spencer Cox said.

“While there isn’t much Utah can do, we can open our homes and hearts to the brave people that stood by our military heroes. God help us. Utah stands ready,” the governor said on Twitter.

Women of the World helps forcibly displaced women from all over the world find success, education, and happiness in Utah. Many Afghan women come to the nonprofit for assistance and to share fears and struggles.

Samira Harnish, the organization's CEO and founder, is hopeful they will be able to help many more Afghan women who are able to flee here. She says there is no time to waste.

WATCH: Future of Afghan women under threat

“We should just bring them and after that, we do the asylum seeker. This is what I want to see: All the world to open their borders and to help with what is going on in Afghanistan. We must help them,” she said.

The women agreed Tuesday that there is a great fear of the Taliban. One woman even said it feels like they are going back in time 20 years. It is especially scary for women, Ali said.

“The Taliban is very cruel, and they are just putting a stop on women’s rights,” she said.

Harnish added that we need a solution soon.

“It is a very scary moment, and I really wish there is a solution right away to happen,” she said.