Sioux Falls man trying to help friends flee Afghanistan

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The U.S. finished its evacuation of Afghanistan last week, but there are still many Afghan nationals who helped foreign troops over the last 20 years looking for a way out of the country.

Todd Epp spent time in Afghanistan in 2015 and 2016 working as a legal expert for a World Bank project attempting to de-nationalize Afghanistan’s long-standing national coal company. While he was there, he got to meet and become friends with many Afghan people and is now trying to help them get out of the country.

Epp says he has worked over 40 hours since the middle of August gathering documents, filling out forms to try and help get his friends out of Afghanistan, to a safer country.

“I’ve lost weight, can’t sleep, I want to cry, but that’s nothing compared to what my friends are going through hiding in a hobble somewhere in Kabul or in northern Afghanistan someplace knowing that there could be people trying to turn them in or get a list with their names on them,” said Epp.

Epp says the South Dakota congressional delegation and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst’s office have been the most helpful in his efforts, but he has stopped hearing from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

“I have gotten one email back from the state department on one of my friends and it was just kind of a general thing, here are other resources, it wasn’t anything that would give a person hope that you’re going to get my friend and his mom or my other friends out of Afghanistan,” said Epp.

Epp will continue to do everything he can to help his friends over in Afghanistan because they helped him whenever he needed it while he was over there.

“Where do I get my hope, I get it from knowing that these people that I’m trying to help would do the same thing for me whether they thought there was no chance at all of it working, because I’ve seen them and what they’ve done for me in Afghanistan,” said Epp. “I know they would be working as hard or harder than I am.”

Epp says people have a short memory, and before the fall of Afghanization and the American pullout becomes old news, we cannot forget about the people still there who helped us.

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