US evacuates Afghan visa applicants to military post in Virginia

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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration said Monday it would evacuate around 2,500 Afghans who worked for the U.S. government and their families to a military post in Virginia pending approval of their visas.

The administration has informed Congress that Afghans will be accommodated at Fort Lee, a sprawling military post south of Richmond starting next week, according to a Defense Department notice sent to lawmakers. The administration announced earlier this month that it would soon begin relocating Afghan visa applicants under an initiative known as “Operation Allies Refuge.”

“These first resettlement flights, the first under the State Department-led Operation Allies Refuge, will place America’s commitment to those who helped us provide transportation to secure locations. where the requirements of the (visa) process can be safely and completely completed, ”says the notice.

The announcement, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, came amid growing concerns for the safety of Afghans who have served as translators and other support roles to U.S. troops and diplomats as the he administration is quickly preparing to complete the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.

Members of Congress have expressed growing concern over the fate of Afghans who have worked for the United States for the past 20 years, especially as the Taliban has stepped up its military operations against the Afghan government in recent weeks, taking controlling large parts of the country as the United States. the troops withdraw.

The group that will be hosted at Fort Lee represents only a small part of the number of Afghans seeking refuge in the United States. About 20,000 people have expressed interest in applying for “special immigrant visas” to relocate to the United States, but only half of them are sufficiently advanced in the verification process to be considered for relocation.

“Pursuant to a formal request for assistance from interagency partners, the Department (of Defense) recommended Fort Lee, Va., As a temporary home facility for the first group of SIV candidates embarking on resettlement movements,” indicates the opinion to Congress.

“Here, this initial group of approximately 2,500 people, who have completed the SIV security screening process, will be able to safely complete the final stages of the SIV process, such as a medical examination and the final administrative requirements. “, did he declare.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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