An Irish distillery owner whose company name is similar to that of a US security company has told of how he has received emails from people desperate to get out of Afghanistan and in fear of their lives.
eter Mulryan is the CEO of Blackwater Distillery on the banks of the River Blackwater in Co Waterford, but last week he started getting emails from people who have mistaken his company for that of Blackwater Security who provided security services in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan for the US.
The emails he received were from people who worked for, or in conjunction with, Blackwater Security and now feel their lives are under threat from the Taliban regime who have taken control of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US and UK troops after 20 years.
“It was awful to read them, and I responded to them explaining that we are a different Blackwater, that we are a small drinks company in Ireland, and some of them replied to thank me, which I found incredible because they are in such danger,” he said.
“One man said he had worked in the ministry of defence for five years in intelligence and the Taliban was now asking people about him, and he was in fear over it. Another guy had very good English, and he explained how his life and the lives of his family were under threat, and he was basically in hiding.
“I actually rang him back. He told me he and his father had a logistics company and had worked for NATO for years as a translator and providing food and oil. This guy had a masters degree and he was desperate for help,” he added.
“In the email he said he had heard on social media that it would cost $6,500 for each person to get out, and he was offering more than $50,000 to get his family out, and then when I was talking to him he told me that they had sent their passports to the Turkish embassy to get visas, but then the embassy closed, leaving them with no passports, no visas, and no access to their money.
“They are now moving around Afghanistan, changing address three and four times a week, and there are three generations of the family he is trying to protect,” Mr Mulryan told Independent.ie
“It made me feel helpless, and it really brought home the level of fear in Afghanistan. I could hear the desperation in his voice. This was no longer something far away and on the news, I was talking to someone who is in fear for their life.
“He would have left school while the US were still there, and he was very educated, and now his life was ruined. I think how petty our problems are here, they are usually very first-world problems. There’s nobody running after us with guns, but that’s a reality for this man and his family.
“I feel an affinity with him now having spoken to him, and I want to stay in contact with him. But we have to organise contact in advance and I just don’t know where he is now or how safe he and his family are.
“I hope he gets to Europe somehow and maybe we can help him, but for the moment I told him that I could help give him a platform, and help get his story out,” he added.
“He cannot travel out by land because the borders with other countries are closed. It’s just such a desperate situation.”