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'Losing sleep' Family of Irish woman in Kabul will only ‘breathe again’ when she is out of Afghanistan airspace

"We were getting news feeds and getting more and more sick with worry the whole time"

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Aoife MacManus with her dad Ray and mum Jenny having coffee on one of her last visits home from Afghanistan

Aoife MacManus with her dad Ray and mum Jenny having coffee on one of her last visits home from Afghanistan

Aoife MacManus with her dad Ray and mum Jenny having coffee on one of her last visits home from Afghanistan

THE father of an Irish woman waiting to get out of Afghanistan says his family will only begin to breathe properly again when she is out of the country's airspace.

Aoife MacManus is currently staying in an area being 'protected' by the Taliban and hopes to be flown out of the country today.

The Meath woman has been coordinating a major education programme run by an international charity for the last two years in Afghanistan.

Her father Ray says his wife Jenny and son Colm have been “worried sick” over the last number of weeks as the Taliban's takeover unfolded.

"We have been extremely concerned for weeks now as we were watching the colours on the maps on the TV and on our computers changing and showing the Taliban takeover inexorably heading towards Kabul,” Ray said.

“We were losing more and more sleep,” he said from the family home in Fleenstown, Ashbourne, Co Meath.

"We were talking to Aoife and, of course, they weren't getting the same news as we were and Aoife was saying that, on the ground over there, everything was quiet in Kabul.

"Nobody expected it. You would think that American and British intelligence would have some inkling of the speed with which the Taliban would get into Kabul.

"I remember seeing when the last southern city fell to the Taliban, there was only 140km of motorway between it and Kabul, and American Intelligence was saying it will be 30 days before they get in - and they were there in two days.”

Ray said it was then that the family began to get seriously concerned.

"Then as we were hearing these reports that the Taliban was surrounding the city, you can imagine the feeling in the stomach, the tightening, trying to get a breath,” he said.

"We were speaking to Aoife and she was saying they were evacuating from the compound but there was a lack of certainty as plans were changed not only by the hour, but by the five minutes.

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"They were saying goodbye to their Afghan colleagues and friends who they admire, love and respect so much and they were all crying getting into armoured vehicles."

Ray told LMFM Radio that his daughter was in the “gentle care” of the Taliban but hoped to be coming home today.

"We were getting news feeds and getting more and more sick with worry the whole time,” he said.

"At this stage she is in the gentle care of the Taliban and they are protecting the place where she is.

"We never thought we'd see the day when we'd be happy enough with that situation but they are bending over backwards by the looks of things to make sure no foreigner is touched in any way at all.

"It seems only a question of time now that flights will resume at the airport and Aoife will, please God, fly out of there.

"She was the co-ordinator of an education project particularly for women and girls and it was so important to her. She spent eight and a half years working in development education in Ghana and Mozambique and now in Kabul and it is her passion.

"The people that have been reasonably educated now will have a different outlook in life and will understand how important it is to educate their own children even informally, but it would be an awful pity to see the progress made by Aoife and her likes stopped in its tracks.

"We are hoping she will be out today. Once she is out of Afghan airspace, we can begin to breathe properly and get a good night's sleep again. We don't care where she flies into as long as it's out of Afghanistan."

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