'I was a few metres from that explosion': Kitchener, Ont. resident stuck in Afghanistan

WARNING: Some of the content of this story may be disturbing to some readers.

A man from Kitchener stuck in Afghanistan says he’s been on the run from the threat of the Taliban for months, and wants the Canadian government to do more to help him and others escape.

Wasai Rahimi went to Afghanistan in June to further his work helping vulnerable women enter the workforce.

“As we expanded the project, the political situation in Afghanistan suddenly changed and everything fell apart,” he said.

Rahimi says his situation has been worsening ever since he tried unsuccessfully to make contact with Canadian embassy officials at the Kabul airport back in August.

“I tried to reach someone at the embassy, through those [Taliban] soldiers, but there was no way to reach them,” said Rahimi, “The Taliban were shooting in the air and shooting tear gas at people, it was really disturbing.”

He says he returned days later to the airport and witnessed the explosion that killed more than a dozen US troops and several dozen others.

“I was just a few metres from that explosion,” said Rahimi. “My clothing was covered by the blood of other people, but fortunately I was safe.”

Since then, Rahimi says he’s been in hiding and has been changing locations every other day.

“One night they come and surrounded my brother’s home,” he said. “They beat him up and asked him to show my whereabouts.

“When they take a person they never come back.”

Rahimi has a wife and seven children in Kitchener. They’re worried that his work efforts, and the fact that he’s from Canada, have put him in danger.

“He was not aware the situation would escalate like this. Now his life is at risk,” a statement from his daughter reads in part. “We are now very concerned about him being there. It’s very sad that the Canadian government is not doing as much as they could.”

Rahimi and his family say they’ve reached out to two former local MP’s in Waterloo Region, but did not receive any help from Marwan Tabarra or Raj Saini.

Newly-elected Kitchener South-Hespeler MP Valerie Bradford says she is unable to comment about this case for privacy reasons and directed CTV News to Global Affairs Canada.

Rahimi says he calls Global Affairs Canada regularly.

“They say we have your name and you are on the list and this and that and we will contact you,” he said. “If something happens to me, the government should feel ashamed of their carelessness.”

Global Affairs Canada said it has confirmed safe passage for more than 1,000 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and family members out of Afghanistan.

"Our priority is to work with our allies to help Canadian citizens, permanent residents and vulnerable Afghans who want to leave Afghanistan, do so safely," Patricia Skinner, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said in an email. "We will not stop before the remaining Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and their families, and the vulnerable Afghans who supported our work in Afghanistan and wish to leave are able to depart."

At the end of August, the department said roughly 1,250 Canadians were stuck in Afghanistan.

Rahimi says essential goods like food have become expensive and scarce, and that the country is currently in an economic stand-still with no access to banks and only a few people allowed to work.

Rahimi ran for Kitchener city council seven years ago as well as the NDP MP candidate for Kitchener South-Hespeler in 2019.