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Afghan evacuees face confusion, separated families as they land in Northern Virginia

A nurse who volunteered to help the arriving refugees said she met separated couples and children whose parents were still in Afghanistan.

DULLES, Va. — Hundreds more Afghan refugees flew into Dulles International Airport on Saturday as volunteers worked to get them housing and support.

National Airlines flew in close to 270 refugees in the afternoon after the U.S. government contracted them to help aid in the evacuation.

One man, Zamir Sultani, said his sister was stuck on that very plane for hours with no information about when she and other passengers would disembark.

"My sister is a type I diabetic, and she's not feeling that good. They've been sitting there hours and waiting to get out. and my dad is a dialysis patient, and he's also stuck there," Sultani said. "All of them are sitting in the plane, and nobody is even telling them what's going on."

Sultani said he worked as an interpreter for the U.S. in Afghanistan for years before immigrating to the states in 2010.

As of 9:30 p.m., he said his family had reached the customs line but still expected more processing afterwards.

Another woman, whose sister was on a plane from Qatar after working on the air base there, said refugees were lined up in a separate part of customs.

RELATED: Families fleeing Afghanistan on U.S. commercial flights

Credit: Nadia
A traveler from Qatar snapped this picture of Afghan refugees in a separate line in customs.

For much of Saturday, NOVA Community College Annandale Campus was sheltering refugees temporarily.

WUSA9 spoke with some there who said they had to leave their entire families behind and just jump on a plane to escape.

When nurse Hasina Shah heard that her daughter's alma mater was accepting refugees from her homeland, she had to jump into action.

She said she emigrated from Afghanistan as a refugee in the '80s.

She said it was heart wrenching to hear stories from refugees taking shelter on the campus.

“Very overwhelming. I mean, everybody was in tears, joy, sadness, happiness, everything all at once," Shah said. "They couldn't sleep. Most of them were very depressed. They had so many people left behind their wife. There's a husband that was with an 18-month-old. The mother left behind. There is a 11-year-old there. But no mother. No father.”

A head volunteer at the makeshift camp said there weren't adequate records of all the refugees taking shelter there – causing confusion for those working to help resettle them.

WUSA9 reached out to the State Department for comment and was awaiting a response Saturday evening.

Major General Hank Taylor, deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that the U.S. has flown out about 13,000 people in the last week.

“They have no clothes. Nothing," Shah said. "But thank God, a lot of help is pouring in right now.”

So many neighbors drove in donations to the Annandale campus Saturday that the president of the college tweeted out asking people not to drop off more donations – they had too many.

Shah said it's a bright spot in a helpless situation.

“The situation is so bad," she said. "And they don't know what's going to happen to them here. And I have no answers to give them.”

But, she said she can give her time and home to offer some comfort.

“I will be here till the end where they're going to be if they will have somebody to take care of them," Shah said.

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