Afghans working for the U.S. in long-term military operations begin airlifting Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: On June 25, 2021, a former Afghan interpreter who had worked with the US military in Afghanistan demonstrated in front of the US Embassy in Kabul.REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Jonathan Randy

Washington (Reuters)-On Friday, about 200 Afghans will start a new life in the United States as they worked for the U.S. government during the 20-year Afghan War in Afghanistan, for translators and others who risked retaliation by the Taliban Air freight, US officials said.

The evacuation of Afghans and family members associated with the United States took place at a time when the evacuation of U.S. troops was nearing completion and the government’s efforts to repel the Taliban were progressing.

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

Afghans are obtaining special immigrant visas (SIV), giving them the right to bring their families. As many as 50,000 people or more may eventually be evacuated in the “Operation Allies Refuge”.

“These arrivals are just the first of many arrivals, because we are working quickly to transfer SIV-eligible Afghans to the United States, United States facilities abroad, or a third country so that they can wait safely when they complete their mission. Visa application,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Secretary of State Anthony Brinken stated in a separate statement that the United States will continue to use “the full power of our diplomatic, economic and development toolkit” to support the Afghan people.

Biden’s deputy homeland security adviser Ras Travers said that the first people to arrive were about 2,500 SIV applicants and family members, who had almost completed the process and were ready for evacuation.

It is expected that Afghans will stay in Fort Lee for up to 7 days before they can be reunited with relatives or host families across the country.

Travers added that the evacuees were subjected to “rigorous background checks” and COVID-19 tests. Some people have already been vaccinated, and the rest will be vaccinated in Fort Li.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that approximately 300 American soldiers from multiple facilities will provide logistics, temporary accommodation and medical support in Fort Lee.

He said in a statement that in the past decade, about 75,000 other Afghans have resettled in the United States, adding that the country has a “moral obligation” to “help those who have helped us”.

The escalating violence in Afghanistan has caused serious problems for many SIV applicants, and their paperwork is in preparation because of reports that some people have been killed by avenging insurgents — this is denied by the Taliban.

Some applicants were unable to reach the capital Kabul to complete the required steps at the US Embassy or arrive on their flight.

The SIV program has been plagued by long processing times and bureaucracy — the Biden administration and Congress are working to resolve these issues — resulting in a backlog of approximately 20,000 applications. The State Department has increased its staff to handle them.

Adam Bates, a policy adviser for the International Refugee Assistance Project, which provides legal aid to refugees, said: “The United States has had 20 years to predict what the withdrawal will look like.” “We are late. This is unreasonable.”

Kim Staffieri, the co-founder of the War Allies Association who helped SIV applicants, said that a survey conducted through Facebook (NASDAQ:) showed that about half of SIV applicants were unable to reach Kabul, including many who were approved to evacuate. applicant.

Congress formulated the SIV plan for Iraqi and Afghanistan interpreters in 2006, who are at risk of retaliation because of the work of the US government.

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