The United States’ commitment to high-risk Afghans extends beyond President Joe Biden’s August 31 deadline to withdraw from the country, a senior State Department official said, adding that the promise of safe passage will not “expiry date”.
“Our commitment to high-risk Afghans will not end on August 31,” the official told reporters in a briefing, without explaining how Washington could continue its efforts to help people leave the country if it settles by the end of the year. withdraw from the country completely. the month.
The Taliban seized power just over a week ago when the United States and its allies withdrew their troops after a 20-year war launched in the weeks following the September 11 attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001.
In panic, Afghans and foreigners had been crowding the airport for days, screaming to catch a flight before US-led forces complete their withdrawal by the end of the month.
“We have heard from the Taliban… that they want a functioning airport well after the US military has left… The Taliban have also agreed to secure passage to the airport and this commitment has no expiration date on it,” he said. the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
She added that even if the US military presence is gone, the United States was confident that Afghans at risk would have the opportunity to leave the country.
But reports from the ground are already showing would-be evacuees face a perilous journey to the Kabul airport and chaos at the airport gates before they can continue studying through the crowds on a plane.
On Monday, a member of the Afghan armed forces was killed and several injured in a firefight outside the Kabul airport, while no US personnel were injured, the US military said.
New flight on its way to the US
A new flight carrying evacuated high-risk Afghans will arrive in the United States later on Monday from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, the official said in the same briefing, adding that the pace of flights will accelerate from transit hubs temporarily housing the evacuated refugees in Kabul.
There were currently eight transit hubs in six countries with more than 17,000 people.
“The transit hubs we have arranged in Germany, Italy and Spain will have the combined capacity to handle approximately 15,000 people on a rolling basis, which in turn will enable us to continuously evacuate people from Kabul,” the official said. .
Biden has said the United States expects to evacuate between 50,000 and 65,000 people from Afghanistan. That’s less than the number eligible for safe harbor, according to advocates’ estimates.
“Today, the first onward flight of SIV applicants has departed from Germany to the United States and we expect this number to increase,” the official added, referring to the special immigrant visa, designed for people who have worked with the US military. .
The official also rejected reports that only Americans could reach the Kabul airport and that others had been blocked.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)