ATLANTA — A Lilburn man who emigrated with his wife and children from Afghanistan said he fears for his family and friends. Many are trying to get out of the country since the fall of the Afghan government.
Bahar Mehr is a lifelong Afghan who fled the country less than a year ago and is losing sleep over what he sees now.
"Barely, I eat every day. Because every single hour, I receive emails, I receive phone calls, I receive texts from my former colleagues. And they're asking for help," Mehr said.
He said he's wracked "with pain and with a lot of sorrow and grief."
Mehr worked in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and for the US-backed Afghan government. He said he believed in the US-led mission to eliminate terrorism in his home country.
But in his last years there, he said the Taliban had started menacing him personally. In 2017, he asked the U.S. for a Special Immigrant Visa.
"I received threats in 2017, but it took three years for me to be processed," Mehr said. He finally made it out of Afghanistan and into metro Atlanta 10 months ago.
This week, he said, has been rough – watching coverage of the fall of his hometown of Kabul, and hearing from his friends and family left behind.
"The threats are increasing to their lives by each hour that passes. I receive reports from my former colleagues, from friends and those who are left right now and have been trapped," Mehr said. "This is a threat, a danger, a very imminent threat to their lives. The Taliban have started searching for them. And unfortunately the only thing I can expect is the worst to happen to them."
Mehr said the U.S. government failed his home country. Under the resurgent Taliban, he expects women especially to lose their freedoms.
"It was a mistake to withdraw that rapidly from Afghanistan," Mehr said.
Authorities said there are 18,000 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applications pending. Mehr said given the current circumstances, he’s not optimistic for any of them.