Family of Irish woman in Afghanistan ‘relieved’ she is now safe in Pakistan

‘We don’t know when she will get home, we are just so happy she is out of the country’

The family of Aoife MacManus said they feel as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. Photograph: Aoife MacManus/PA Wire

The family of Aoife MacManus said they feel as if a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. Photograph: Aoife MacManus/PA Wire

 

Irish woman Aoife MacManus has said the Taliban helped to escort her to the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan last night.

Ms MacManus and 26 other co-workers landed in Islamabad, Pakistan after a one-hour flight which left at dawn on Thursday morning.

"I'm happy to be safe but very heavy-hearted about what we're leaving behind," she told RTÉ news.

"For now I'm just going to rest for a day or two and then get back home soon and then see everybody then."

Earlier, her family said they were ‘relieved and happy’ that their daughter is now safe.

Her father Ray MacMánais said the family got little sleep last night but feel that a weight has been lifted from them now.

However the family in Fleenstown, Ashbourne, Co Meath, say their thoughts are still very much with the remaining Irish trying to get out of Kabul.

“I’m happy to say that Aoife is now safe and well in Islamabad,” he said on Thursday afternoon.

“We have spoken to her this morning and she is also happy, safe, relieved and very emotional. I think she is catching up on some much needed sleep now.

“No planes were allowed to leave Afghanistan before dawn so as soon as the sun came up this morning, she left Kabul on the one hour flight to Pakistan.

“We don’t know when she will get back home to Ireland but we are just so happy she is now out of the country

“My wife Jenny, son Colm and I got little if any sleep last night but it feels now like a huge weight has been lifted from us.

“We have a huge sense of gratitude to the many, many people who have got in touch with us during this time, who were saying prayers, lighting candles and sending messages of hope. Thank you.”

However, Ray said the ordeal was not over for many other Irish still in Afghanistan of whom they were now thinking

“We are still very much thinking of those other poor people who haven’t been so lucky yet and who are still trying to get out of Kabul. The numbers of Irish still there are changing all the time

“Their families are still going through the torture that we were going through only hours ago and we remain in solidarity with them and pray they have the same outcome as us very soon — in knowing that their families are safe.”

Aoife’s mum Jenny added: “We are just heartbroken for every one of the people in Afghanistan who find themselves in this horrible situation.”

Aoife had been coordinating a major education programme, run by an international charity for the last two years in Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover.