About 200 Afghans who collaborated with the American government during the war in Afghanistan flew to the United States.
On Friday, about 200 Afghans who received a special immigration visa (SIV) as part of an operation to evacuate people from Afghanistan who assisted the US government arrived in the United States on a special flight.
“Today is an important milestone in fulfilling our promise to the thousands of Afghan citizens who, along with American military personnel and diplomats, have served in Afghanistan for the past 20 years,” President Joe Biden said in a statement today, ” I want to pay tribute to all the people in the United States who spoke on behalf of these brave Afghans, including the authoritative community of veterans who consistently supported the Afghans who worked with them in Afghanistan, often acting as translators and interpreters.”
White House officials announced the launch of Operation Shelter for Allies on July 14, saying that as part of this initiative, Afghan interpreters and other people who helped the US government during the war in Afghanistan and their families will be evacuated. All these people now fear retribution from the Taliban.
“These brave men and women, putting themselves and their families at great risk, together with the American military, diplomats and coalition forces, supported our activities, preventing Afghanistan from becoming a hotbed of terrorism that threatens our Homeland,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement released on Friday.
Russ Travers, the Senior Deputy Homeland Security Adviser from the National Security Council, said in a comment to reporters that today’s evacuation flight demonstrates “the fulfillment of obligations on the part of the United States” and is a demonstration of “the courage of the Afghans who supported our mission.”
Administration officials said that about 200 people who received immigration visas and their family members arrived in the United States on the first flight. About 700 more people whose visas have been approved will arrive in the country in the next few weeks.
All the Afghans who arrived were sent to the Fort Lee military base in Virginia, where they will spend several weeks undergoing medical examinations and preparing documents for the move. People who have relatives in the United States will be placed with them; other Afghans will be placed as part of the State Department’s refugee reception program.
“America has a long tradition of opening our arms to immigrants and refugees, and this flight was another such occasion,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday. “Together with our civil society partners and tens of thousands of volunteers across the country, we look forward to welcoming our Afghan friends and partners.”
According to the State Department, the first group of refugees underwent a medical examination; all its participants were tested for COVID-19. If someone has a positive result, these people will be quarantined before leaving the military base.
Tracey Jacobson, a team member of the State Department’s coordination group for Afghanistan, said that all the refugees who wanted to be vaccinated were vaccinated in Kabul. In addition, vaccines will be offered to all people stationed in Fort Lee.