by Mark Van Streefkerk
The U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has left a chaotic and uncertain path forward for refugees and those with special status seeking to evacuate during the Taliban takeover. Washington-based organizations and resettlement agencies are scrambling to rally resources and funding to welcome people fleeing Afghanistan — U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (of the U.S.) and their immediate family members, those with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), as well as refugees. These organizations are anticipating resettling thousands of people over a timeline that will take months, or even a year.
Afghans with SIVs are typically those that have worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan. Currently, the U.S. Embassy has issued a directive for U.S. citizens to be evacuated, but other at-risk Afghans without special status are also fleeing the country as refugees.
Navid Hamidi, executive director of the Afghan Health Initiative (AHI), explained the current situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control: “Eventually people that worked with the United States Army or western countries, any type of involvement, those people will be targeted and they are in fear of their lives … As the U.S. pulled out and the Taliban took power, they had no strategy and no plan to evacuate all these people.”
“The only thing that people thought was the best option is to go to the Kabul airport. There’s so much chaos going on there right now … they are all in the airport begging for the U.S. and their allies to just evacuate them,” he said.
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