US eyes refuge to 50,000 Afghans in 3 Central Asian states

Advertisement

Washington was in talks with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan about letting in the at-risk Afghan citizens, reports Asian Lite News

Amid US troops withdrawal, thousands of Afghan translators and interpreters face threats from the Taliban as they assisted American troops for two decades during its war against terror in Afghanistan. The United States announced plans last week to seek refuge for thousands of vulnerable Afghans in countries outside Afghanistan so their US visa applications could be processed from safety, but Washington did not specify where they would go.

The Biden administration is exploring having three Central Asian countries temporarily take in thousands of Afghans who worked with the US forces and face threats from the Taliban now that the US troops are withdrawing after 20 years, three sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

They said Washington was in talks with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan about letting in the at-risk Afghan citizens. Two of the sources were US officials and all requested anonymity.

The three sources said an agreement did not appear imminent with any of the countries. The decision to move at-risk Afghans risks inflaming a sense of crisis in Afghanistan, as fighting between US-backed Afghan forces and the Taliban has surged in recent weeks, with the militants gaining control of large amounts of territory.

ALSO READ: Jordan king holds talks with Abbas ahead of Biden summit

On being asked about the issue, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki provided no further details. “One of the reasons that I am not going to get into security details about what third country they might go to, and how many, is exactly for that reason, but certainly our timeline is to relocate these individuals to a location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown,” Psaki had said on Friday.

President Joe Biden has asserted those who helped the US will not be left behind, while a senior Republican lawmaker on Thursday had said plans to evacuate at-risk Afghans will include their family members for a total of as many as 50,000 people. “We are identifying a group of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who have served as interpreters and translators, as well as other at-risk categories who have assisted us. They will be relocated to a location outside of Afghanistan before we complete our military drawdown by September, in order to complete the visa application process,” a senior administration official said.

Meanwhile on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met his Tajik and Uzbek counterparts. The State Department said in readouts of the meetings that Afghanistan was discussed but provided no further details. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Pompeo calls on Biden to strengthen policies against China