Biden administration will house 2,500 Afghan interpreters at Fort Lee in Virginia when they start evacuations following months of delays and an increase in Taliban threats
- The initial group of evacuees include 700 interpreters and their families
- The Afghans, who aided the US military at their own risk, will be allowed to finish their visa application processes from the base outside of Richmond, Virginia
- They are just a small portion of the roughly 18,000 special immigrant visa applicants hoping to be airlifted out of Afghanistan as the Taliban gains ground
- About 53,000 family members of these interpreters are also looking for rescue
- The update comes after Biden said interpreters could be airlifted to ‘third countries’ to wait out their visa application process in safety if they chose to
- Operation Allies Refuge was announced after bipartisan pressure to help
The Biden administration is flying 2,500 Afghan interpreters to the US to be housed at Fort Lee in Virginia as US troops pull out and the Taliban continues to wreak havoc across the country.
The small group includes people who have already begun applying for special immigrant visas will be temporarily housed at the military base outside of Richmond, Virginia.
‘These are brave Afghans,’ State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday, ‘who have completed thorough SIV security vetting processes.’
‘They will be provided temporary housing and services as they complete the final steps,’ he told reporters.
Roughly 700 Afghan interpreters and their families will be temporarily housed at Fort Lee military base, State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed Monday
Afghan interpreters and their families who aided the US in its 20-year war will be allowed to stay at the base while they finish the application process.
This first group of 700 interpreters and their families is just a small number of the estimated 18,000 SIV applicants and 53,000 family members waiting to leave Afghanistan.
Many of them are facing threats to their lives as the Taliban gains more territory amid ongoing clashes with US-backed Afghan troops.
Many interpreters who helped the US military over its 20-year conflict in Afghanistan are facing increasing threats to their lives as the Taliban gains ground. Afghan government security forces in the country have set up check points (seen here) to search people and vehicles ahead of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha
An Afghan security official stands guard at a checkpoint on July 19 to ensure peoples’ safety amid increasing conflicts between government troops and the Taliban
Around 300 Afghan translators are believed to have been murdered since 2014, according to nonprofit No One Left Behind (pictured at a June 25 protest at the US embassy in Kabul)
The initial evacuation will likely be carried out by civilian chartered planes rather than military aircraft.
Dubbed Operation Allies Refuge, the effort will be spearheaded by the US Air Force.
Around 300 Afghan translators are believed to have been murdered since 2014, according to nonprofit No One Left Behind.
The White House promised to begin evacuating Afghans by the end of July, as President Biden’s self-imposed September 11 deadline for a full military withdrawal approaches.
Biden said Afghan interpreters and their families could be evacuated ‘to third countries’ if they wanted to in remarks defending the US withdrawal last week
Biden said the interpreters and their families could be evacuated ‘if they wish to leave by taking them to third countries’ in remarks defending the US withdrawal last week.
The administration will prioritize evacuating those who have already begun applying for their SIV, a process which could take up to 800 days.
However, the normally drawn-out process has faced even more delays over the last year due to State Department backlogs, a lack of translators to help process paperwork and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Taliban announced last week that it had seized a strategic border crossing with Pakistan. Taliban representatives (pictured here on July 18) have been meeting with the Afghan government for peace talks in Qatar
Biden’s new evacuation plan comes amid an escalation in violence between US-backed Afghan troops and the Taliban.
The extremist group announced last week that it had seized a strategic border crossing with Pakistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted a video purporting to show Taliban fighters in the town of Spin Boldak along the border.
Residents of the Pakistani border town of Chaman reported seeing the Taliban’s signature white flag flying just across the boundary line and Taliban fighters in vehicles driving in the area.