US curtailing evacuation flights of Afghans to US for now to prioritize Americans

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Afghans who enactment astatine antithetic offices unreserved to homes aft quality broke that Taliban reached connected the outskirts of Kabul, successful Kabul, Afghanistan, 15 August 2021. (Photo: Stringer/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The Biden medication has curtailed the fig of government-sponsored evacuation flights to the United States for Afghans who worked alongside the US for the clip being arsenic it prioritizes the evacuation of American unit from the country, 3 sources acquainted with the concern told CNN Sunday.

It is unclear however agelong the intermission successful flights volition past and the concern remains fluid. As of past week, exile resettlement agencies were preparing for a ample influx of Afghan arrivals, 2 of the sources said, and Biden medication officials were discussing an uptick successful SIV flights. On Sunday, a associated connection from the Departments of Defense and State reiterated that the medication would “accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas.”

However, the past planned formation for the clip being of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their families bound for Fort Lee, Virginia, has near Afghanistan, 4 sources said.

A State Department spokesperson pushed backmost connected Sunday, saying successful a statement,As we’ve said, time and implicit the coming days, we volition beryllium transferring retired of Afghanistan thousands of American citizens who person been nonmigratory there, arsenic good arsenic locally employed unit of the U.S. ngo successful Kabul and their families and different peculiarly susceptible Afghan nationals.”

“Additionally, we are committed to relocating arsenic galore SIV applicants arsenic imaginable retired of Afghanistan, expanding the tempo from caller weeks wherever we person already relocated astir 2,000 SIV applicants,” they said.

The developments travel arsenic the Afghan authorities has fallen and the Taliban person taken power of Kabul, leaving the Afghans who worked alongside the US successful its two-decade subject run fearful for their lives.

One root said that the regulation connected the fig of flights that are capable to transit successful and retired of the Kabul airdrome — which was a country of wide panic and chaos connected Sunday — has impeded efforts to evacuate Afghan SIV applicants and their families.

The US tin determination a maximum of 5,000 radical per time retired of Hamid Karzai International Airport, but the subject has not yet reached that highest capacity. A defence authoritative said the US would beryllium capable to determination that galore radical wrong days, a precarious timeline fixed the velocity with which the Taliban took implicit Kabul.

The Departments of State and Defense said Sunday they volition grow unit beingness astatine the Kabul airdrome to astir 6,000 troops implicit the adjacent 48 hours to instrumentality implicit aerial postulation power and arsenic portion of “a bid of steps to unafraid the Hamid Karzai International Airport to alteration the harmless departure of U.S. and allied unit from Afghanistan via civilian and subject flights.”

“Tomorrow and implicit the coming days, we volition beryllium transferring retired of the state thousands of American citizens who person been nonmigratory successful Afghanistan, arsenic good arsenic locally employed unit of the U.S. ngo successful Kabul and their families and different peculiarly susceptible Afghan nationals,” the associated connection from the 2 agencies said.

“And we volition accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas, astir 2,000 of whom person already arrived successful the United States implicit the past 2 weeks,” the connection said. “For each categories, Afghans who person cleared information screening volition proceed to beryllium transferred straight to the United States. And we volition find further locations for those yet to beryllium screened.”

As of past Thursday, 1,200 Afghans and their families had been evacuated to America arsenic portion of the administration’s “Operation Allies Refuge,” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price. Those Afghans had been processed astatine Fort Lee successful Virginia, but determination are existent efforts underway to hole much US subject bases to instrumentality successful SIV applicants, including Fort Bliss successful Texas, 2 sources acquainted with the discussions said.

Lawmakers and advocacy groups person for months urged the medication to accelerate efforts to get the Afghan SIV applicants retired of the state up of the planned afloat subject withdrawal, and those calls had grown much urgent arsenic the information concern deteriorated and the US announced it would evacuate each but a fewer diplomatic personnel. On Sunday, the US evacuated its diplomatic compound in Kabul and relocated its unit to the Kabul airport.

“If this is the champion our federation tin bash to determination allies to safety, we person abjectly failed to unrecorded up to our values and obligations. There is simply nary crushed we can’t evacuate at-risk Afghans astatine the aforesaid clip arsenic American citizens. We fought broadside by broadside for 20 years — surely, we tin permission broadside by side,” Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said connected Sunday.

“We can’t fto those who befriended America beryllium beheaded by the Taliban. No substance your feelings connected the war, the undeniable information is that we had some the means and the clip to prevention those successful danger, and yet, we neglected to enactment successful immoderate meaningful way,” she said.

Administration officials arsenic precocious arsenic Sunday greeting said they were ramping up efforts to get Afghan translators, interpreters and others who worked for the US retired of the country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN’s Jake Tapper connected “State of the Union” Sunday, “We are doubling down connected efforts to get them retired if they privation to leave, and besides different Afghans astatine hazard who whitethorn not suffice for these alleged peculiar migrant visas that the folks who worked straight for america prime for, to bash everything we perchance tin for arsenic agelong arsenic we tin to get them out, if that’s what they want.”

According to sources acquainted with the matter, Biden nationalist information officials told senators during a briefing connected Afghanistan Sunday that determination are arsenic galore arsenic 60,000 Afghans who could perchance suffice arsenic SIV holders oregon applicants, P1/P2 refugees, oregon others similar quality rights defenders and could request evacuation.

The medication said past week it was deploying further troops to Qatar to assistance with SIV applicant processing, and CNN reported past week that the medication was moving to finalize an statement with Qatar to temporarily location thousands of Afghans. That statement has yet to beryllium formally announced.

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