Salem Radio Network News Thursday, October 6, 2022


The Media Line: Israel-Based Organization Sending Private Flights to Get Activists Out of Kabul

Israel-Based Organization Sending Private Flights to Get Activists Out of Kabul

The Shai Fund says it is working in coordination with the US government to evacuate human rights defenders and other activists who are direct targets of the Taliban

By Mike Wagenheim/The Media Line   


Out of her home in the coastal Israeli town of Zichron Yaakov, Charmaine Hedding is working feverishly to help extract thousands of people desperate to leave Afghanistan.

Hedding is an emergency response specialist and president of the Shai Fund, a humanitarian organization based in Israel and registered in the US. She says her organization is heading up logistics, in coordination with the US military, on a pending series of private flights that are set to swoop in and out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, in order to evacuate high-risk human rights defenders and other activists, including some high-profile personnel, who are direct targets of the Taliban, the Islamist group that has rapidly retaken control of the country upon the withdrawal of US and international forces, two decades after being overthrown.

“We formed a coalition because, of course, this is a huge operation. We have private charter flights. So, this is a civil society, grassroots initiative, run by NGOs (non-government organizations) like mine. We have raised the funds to get the flights in. So we have our first flight arriving. And these flights can take up to 300 people,” Hedding told The Media Line.

The first flight was set to arrive on Sunday night.

“We’ve got 10 flights, back-to-back potentially, but there’s no point if we land in Kabul airport and they can’t get through the gates because the Taliban are controlling the gates to the airport. And so, we have to break that open and negotiate where we come in, and we establish this humanitarian corridor so that we can evacuate our people out,” said Hedding.

The Shai Fund has been piecing together passenger manifests in preparation for the flights it is organizing – an operation that could have deadly consequences in and of itself. The organization has been operating out of Afghanistan for years, and its contacts in the region and partners on the ground are now springing into action.


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