Thursday September 23, 2021

Afghan interpreters fleeing Taliban arrive in US

AFP
July 31, 2021

WASHINGTON: The first flight carrying Afghans who worked as interpreters for American troops and diplomats has arrived in the United States, President Joe Biden said on Friday, the start of an operation to evacuate thousands from possible Taliban retaliation.Around 20,000 Afghans worked for the United States following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and have applied for evacuation under the State Department´s Special Immigrant Visas programme. Some estimates suggest the total number of prospective evacuees under what has been dubbed "Operation Allies Refuge" could be as high as 100,000 once relatives are included. Many of them fear retaliation from the Taliban who have secured a vast swath of the country since foreign troops began the last stage of a withdrawal due to be complete by late August.

"Today is an important milestone as we continue to fulfil our promise to the thousands of Afghan nationals who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats over the last 20 years in Afghanistan," Biden said in a statement released by the White House. He added that the administration is working to quickly relocate visa-eligible Afghans "out of harm´s way". Biden said these first arrivals have already completed extensive background checks and security screenings and would undergo medical checks and other processing in Fort Lee, Virginia before being resettled across the country.