EXCLUSIVE – Republican North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy‘s office has helped 80 at-risk people escape from Afghanistan since last week after the Biden administration ordered a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country.
Murphy, with assistance from office staff, including Afghanistan veteran and Georgetown student Kevin Ryan, helped rescue 13 Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders and their families last week and 67 more this week.
“We’ve had a couple of our congressional staff … working night and day trying to get these at-risk individuals out of Afghanistan,” Murphy told Fox News. “Really doing the work of our State Department and trying to process people — get them the paperwork that they need — to get them out of the country as best as we can, but we don’t have any people on the ground. We don’t have any assets on the ground.”
Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., walks down the House steps after a vote in the Capitol in September 2020. ( Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
He said the situation in Afghanistan is escalating into a “massive humanitarian crisis” nearly two months after the military withdrew.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said Tuesday that nearly 450 American citizens are still trapped within Afghanistan’s borders under the Taliban’s rule — more than the 100 Americans the Biden administration has previously claimed.
Ryan is part of an online network of thousands of private citizens with different areas of expertise working to get Americans and allies out of the country. The network is helping to fill in a gap that the U.S. government left when it exited Afghanistan to facilitate the safe passage of Americans and Afghans trapped abroad and has assisted about 400 people in leaving the country so far.
“There was a constituent who called in who was trying to get his interpreter and his family out, and I had no idea who this person was,” Ryan said of one of the individuals who he helped leave.
“But because of the connections I had going, I said, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ Well, that interpreter had two cousins and a brother whom he also wanted to get out … and we were able to get them out.”
Three individuals Rep. Greg Murphy’s office helped rescue from Afghanistan. (Rep. Greg Murphy’s office)
Ryan said helping a constituent he had never met gave him a sense of accomplishment but insisted that helping people trapped in the country has been a group effort, adding that “there’s still a lot of work to do.”
“My own personal interpreters are still over there, so that’s what keeps me over there to just do whatever it takes to get them home,” Ryan said. “We promised them … that they could come to the United States because they wore a uniform, and they went to battle. They risked everything for us, and we can’t leave them behind.”
Murphy’s office is now working to help more than 600 other individuals escape Afghanistan.
“The fact that we are now, as a congressional office — where I represent eastern North Carolina — doing the duties of our State Department is totally ridiculous. That is not our role in government,” Murphy said. “But the fact that we … as an office care about the people we’ve left behind — either American or American allies — is a testament to the fact that this office and the staff in this office care about the mission of this country.”
Families evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, walk to board a bus after they arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport, in Chantilly, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Veterans like Ryan have been communicating with Afghans on the ground through encrypted messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp. They’ve also been using apps to load cellphone data onto Afghanistan citizens’ phones directly from D.C. Banks in the country have closed and people can’t withdraw funds to afford basic necessities like food and phone service.
Ryan described the situation in the country as “rapidly deteriorating.”
Federal officials are in the process of relocating thousands of Afghan refugees who were evacuated prior to the permanent U.S. withdrawal from the country at the end of September.