For three days as Taliban forces swept with lightning speed toward Kabul, Mokhles R, an Afghan refugee in France, was unable to reach his parents and siblings who he knew were hunkered down in the Afghan capital.
With Kabul now under Taliban control, the former interpreter for Western military forces in Afghanistan is desperate to get them out of his homeland.
“I am waiting for a miracle to happen,” said the 35-year-old, whose full name Reuters is withholding in order to protect his family.
“Please evacuate my family. Their life is at real risk. Just because of my work, do not punish my family,” he continued, at times overcome with emotion.
Over a patchy Internet connection, Mokhles R. managed to reach a sister. She said they were safe but too afraid to venture out into the street.
Mokhles R. is one of thousands of men who worked with Western forces during a 20-year military campaign against the Taliban and now more than ever, with the Taliban in control, fear reprisals against either themselves or their families. He fled Afghanistan in 2014.
Originally from Kandahar, he now lives in a drab hotel in Pantin, a suburb to the northeast of Paris. His asylum papers entitle him to two meals a day but he is not allowed to work.
“I haven’t seen (my family) for seven years. Can you imagine?”