Airlift begins for Afghans who worked in the United States during the longest war


Washington — Approximately 200 Afghans are new in the United States on Friday as air transportation began for translators and others who endangered the Taliban’s retaliation for working in the United States during the 20-year war in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said they were planning to start living.

Operations are underway to evacuate US Afghans and their families as US troops are nearing completion and government troops are struggling to repel the Taliban’s advance.

The first plane of 200 evacuees arrived at Fort Lee, a military base in Virginia, for final paperwork and medical examination.

Afghans are granted a special immigrant visa (SIV) that qualifies them to bring their families. The “Allied Evacuation Operation” could eventually evacuate more than 50,000 people.

“These arrivals will allow SIV-eligible Afghans to quickly relocate to the United States, overseas US facilities, or third countries and wait safely until they finish their lives so as not to harm them. So it’s just the first of many. Applying for a visa, “President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in another statement that the United States would continue to use “the full power of diplomatic, economic and development toolkits” to support the people of Afghanistan after the longest war in the United States.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is attending a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait City, Kuwait, on July 29, 2021. (Pool via Jonathan Ernst / AP)

Biden’s Deputy Homeland Security Adviser, Las Travers, said the first arrival group was among the approximately 2,500 SIV applicants and families who had almost completed the process and cleared them for evacuation. rice field.

Afghans were expected to stay in Fort Lee for up to seven days before joining relatives and host families across the country.

The evacuees underwent a “strict background check” and a COVID-19 test, Travers added. Some have already been vaccinated and the rest will be provided with shots at Fort Lee.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said about 300 US military personnel from several facilities would provide logistics, temporary accommodation, and medical assistance in Fort Lee.

In a statement, he said that about 75,000 other Afghans had resettled in the United States in the last decade, and that there is a national “moral obligation” to “help those who helped us.” Added.

The surge in violence in Afghanistan caused serious problems for many SIV applicants in the process of paperwork in reports denied by the Taliban, some killed by revenge-burning militants.

Some applicants will not be able to go to the capital Kabul to complete the necessary steps at the US Embassy or to arrive at the plane.

The SIV program suffers from long processing times and bureaucratic knots, leading to a backlog of about 20,000 applications. The Department of State has added staff to handle them.

As the clock counts down towards the withdrawal of the United States by September, the majority of them, including about 50% in the early stages of the process, could miss airlift operations.

Applicants for the group have been protesting in Kabul in recent months, and they and their supporters say they are facing the risk of violence while waiting for the violence to increase as the troops withdraw. ..

Ross Wilson
Ambassador Ross Wilson, Chargé d’Affaires of the United States, will speak at a press conference at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 30, 2021. (Stringer / Reuters)

Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul told reporters about 4,000 people who are in the later stages but still need to be interviewed after the first flight to take people with security clearance. Said the applicant and his family would be taken. Somewhere outside the United States for processing.

As a result, about 15,000 applicants were waiting in Afghanistan in the early stages.

“I felt it was appropriate to focus energy on parts of the pool of SIV applicants who proved to meet legal standards and work on their transfer,” he said in Washington. He added that various efforts are being made. Helps early-stage applicants access the document.

Adam Bates, a policy adviser to the International Refugee Assistance Project, which provides legal assistance to refugees, said the United States took 20 years to predict what the withdrawal would look like.

“It’s not conscientious that we are so late,” he said.

Kim Stafieri, co-founder of the Wartime Alliance to help SIV applicants, said about half of the applicants were in Kabul, including many who were approved to evacuate, according to a Facebook survey. Turned out to be unreachable.

Wilson said he believed that the “overwhelming majority” of people offered by airlift could reach Kabul.

“We are focusing our efforts on what we can get out of,” he said. “This program cannot solve all the problems in this country.”

Congress created an SIV program in 2006 for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who risked retaliation for working for the US government.

Jonathan Randy