A symbol of US soft power, Afghanistan’s American University in shambles, its students left in lurch
When the Taliban stormed Kabul last month, they seized control of the country's most prestigious private university, the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).
The majority of the endangered students are now trapped in Afghanistan, where faculty members are attempting to get them out while grieving an intellectual and cultural loss.
Current and former AUAF students gathered on Sunday at a safe house and boarded buses to the Kabul airport. After seven hours of waiting for clearance, they were advised that the airport gates posed a security concern and that civilian evacuations would finish on Monday.
AUAF was a symbolic target in an age when Islamists from Afghanistan to Nigeria are eager to deny people access to information. It was funded by US aid and had a mandate to educate Afghanistan's future generation of professionals and leaders.
The university reopened like a phoenix after each attack, with new security measures, extra watch towers, and entrance cabins where entrants were thoroughly patted down. Its pupils, largely scholarship boys and girls from all throughout Afghanistan, always returned, well aware of their impoverished parents' and country's expectations.
Since the Taliban's fall, tens of thousands of Afghans have been evacuated. Many have been transported to third-party countries, while others have arrived in the United States, where facilities are rapidly filling up.