Volunteers from the nonprofit organization Project Dynamo rescued 39 U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents stranded in Afghanistan on Friday, according to reports.
The 39 who were rescued were left behind following the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Over a dozen children were among those rescued, including an 11-month-old American citizen, according to the New York Post, citing a release from Project Dynamo.
“It feels amazing to bring American citizens home. Our countrymen. These are our neighbors,” said Bryan Stern, Project Dynamo cofounder, per WTSP.
Earlier this week, Stern and Abdul Wasit traveled to Afghanistan from an undisclosed country. With the help of a small group of volunteers, the two brought evacuees to a safe house in the Kabul area, the Post reports.
Those being rescued received necessary vaccinations, food, water, and coronavirus testing at the safe house before they were taken to the Kabul International Airport, according to WTSP.
Around 4:00 p.m. local time Friday, evacuees boarded two flights that were funded by Berry Aviation, the Post reports.
“This is the first known major airlift rescue with American boots on the ground since the U.S. government abandoned the country of Afghanistan in August,” said James Judge, a spokesman for Project Dynamo, according to WTSP.
“We are proud to announce that the evacuees and two Dynamo team members are now safely out of Afghan airspace at this time and on their way home to America,” Judge added.
All evacuees received a green light from the State Department after undergoing preliminary inspection but were subject to go through immigration and customs when they arrived at JFK airport in New York City, according to the Post.
The planes arrived at JFK Saturday morning, WTSP reports.
Stern said this is the first rescue where evacuees did not have to stop at a refugee camp, the Post reports.
“No American or Permanent Resident should be forced to stay in a refugee camp while attempting to return to their own families, homes and communities in the United States,” Stern said in a statement, per the outlet.
Project Dynamo claims to have extracted 2,000 Americans since Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban in August, according to WTSP.
The group is made up of current and former servicemembers, according to WFLA.
“Project Dynamo is an umbrella term encompassing two operations — Digital Dunkirk and Dynamo II,” according to the about page on the organization’s website.
“Both efforts are being run by extraordinary civilians with no ties to the U.S. government attempting to do the impossible — saving Americans and Afghan allies who are fearing for their lives as the Taliban regains control of Afghanistan,” the website states.