Operation allies refuge

President Biden announced the troops withdrawal from Afghanistan in April and the US military kicked off its troop’s evacuation during early May this year. However, during a Congressional briefing bipartisan lawmakers pressed Secretary Austin on the issue of relocation of US military’s Afghan interpreters, translators and Informants who had worked for the US interests while endangering their lives during the past. According to reports, Secretary Austin could not satisfy the lawmakers on the issue and resultantly accused of abandoning those who risked their lives to help the US military. There were growing fears that those Afghans who sided with the United States would be left behind on the mercy of Taliban fighters. In fact, US military interpreters, translators, informants, and other workers have been raising their voice through rallies outside US Embassy Kabul and are continuously urging the US government to save their lives and their families amid growing fear of Taliban takeover of the Country.

The Biden administration was preparing for relocation of its clandestine workers and allocated funds for subject relocation in US Defense bill-2022. However, due to Austin’s delayed reply, the lawmakers pressed Biden’s top aides for their slackness on relocation of former US allies and their plans and assessments on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. After lawmaker’s criticism, the Biden administration established a task Force to expedite the efforts for urgent processing of visa applications in a bid to quickly evacuate Afghan interpreters cum informants from the country as the Taliban’s military gains were taking momentum.

In a response to congressional criticism, Biden ordered “Operation Allies Refuge” to evacuate roughly 3500 Afghans consisting of 700 interpreters and their families during the last week of July. The first flight under Operation allies Refuge landed Dulles International airport Washington DC on Friday and the Afghan interpreters and their families were temporarily stayed at US Military base Fort Lee in Virginia. As said, after completion of the remaining immigration process, these families would be settled down in different parts of the US after provision of necessary livelihood for the next few months. According to US media, US lawmakers had waved off some of the formalities and reduced the application processing time for Afghan interpreters while considering the urgency and sensitivity of the case. Reports suggest that about 20 thousand visa applications of Afghan interpreters are currently in vetting process and likely to take months. US Congress had approved an additional $ 500 million for relocation of Afghan interpreters. According to US media, the Biden administration has decided to settle down those Afghan interpreters outside the US mainland, probably in Guam, or other countries including Qatar, Kuwait, or Central Asian States. As per available data, about 70 thousand Afghan interpreters have been residing across the United States under Special Immigration Visa (SIV) Program since 2009.

The United States has a tradition of granting US nationality/ shelter to the people who spied for the US, or helped America during the war, assisted US law enforcement or worked for US military as informants, interpreters, or translators during the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Vietnam etc. Recently, the Biden administration decided to bring some changes in US policy and consider resettlement of Afghan Interpreters in some other country out of America’s mainland. The exact reason for the new strategy has not been shared with the public. Apparently, Biden perceived that those who could not remain loyal to their Dad’s homeland can’t be faithful to the United States.

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