Sacramento City Unified Reports at Least Eight Students Remain Trapped in Afghanistan; Stands in Solidarity with Refugee Community

Press release

SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento City Unified School District reported today that at least eight of its students still remain in Afghanistan after the recent U.S. military evacuation.  

The district learned that students from three families are still in Afghanistan after receiving contact from the students’ parents. The district was aware of some of the student situations ahead of the first day of school on September 2, and continues to assess absences to determine if other students who have not returned to school might be located in Afghanistan. Many of the Sac City Unified students who are in Afghanistan are reported to be American citizens and legal residents of the United States.

“We are very concerned for the safety of our Sac City Unified students who are still in Afghanistan,” said Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar. “This situation is harrowing as each day these students remain in a Taliban-occupied country is another day that their lives are in grave danger. We are closely working with our congressional representatives, and appreciate their tireless efforts to help these students and their families. We remain hopeful that our students will soon be able to safely leave Afghanistan, come home to the U.S. and return to school in Sacramento.” 

“As a parent and grandparent, the safety, privacy and return of the students is of utmost importance,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui. “We are in communication with families regularly and continue to fiercely advocate daily on their behalf in our communications with the Department of State and federal partners. We are hopeful for the safe return of these students and their families as the Department of State continues their efforts. My staff and I will continue to work hard on the return of Americans, permanent residents and Afghan allies still in Afghanistan. These families are our neighbors, and our community is ready to welcome them home as soon as possible.”

Sac City Unified has kept contact with the families through online messaging platforms and email. Some of the families report that they were unable to join or were turned away from evacuation flights. Some of the families have shared that were near the blast at the Kabul airport and have reported that their children have been exposed to violence and trauma in recent days due to gunfire and bombings. The families had traveled to Afghanistan for various reasons, including visiting family members who were seriously ill.

“I am deeply concerned that many of our Sacramento County students have not been able to safely leave Afghanistan,” said Congressman Ami Bera. “My office has been in close contact with Sacramento-area school districts and have elevated the students’ cases with the highest levels of the U.S. government, including the Department of State and Department of Defense. Just last week, as Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, I directly urged the Secretary of State to use all available resources to safely evacuate all Americans, permanent residents, and our Afghan allies and partners. My office will continue to forcefully advocate for their safe return from Afghanistan, including the return of all Sacramento-area students.”

“Sac City Unified stands in solidarity with our refugee community,” Superintendent Aguilar added. “Enrolling children and attending school is a vital way that refugee families connect with their new community, and we welcome families from Afghanistan and other countries with open arms. We also understand that establishing a new home does not lessen concerns about family and friends left behind. Our district will continue to support the needs of our refugee students and their families who may be navigating extra stress and trauma at this time.”

Based on data collected from 2016-2020, Sac City Unified received 476 refugee students during this period. Since July, the district has welcomed 36 refugees from Afghanistan as students, and expects many more. In anticipation of additional refugees from Afghanistan this year, the district has added additional support and staff, including reconvening a district Refugee Task Force to coordinate with Connect Centers throughout the district. Many refugees settle in Sacramento and the district works with the International Rescue Committee of Sacramento to help acclimate families in the community and enroll their children in school. 

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