Scatter or wait: What happens to Afghan refugees in US

Mikhail Kotlyar

US President Joe Biden doubled the limit on the admission of refugees for the n-ext year – from 62.5 thousand to 125 thousand.At the same time, more than 50 thousand evacuated Afghans, taken in August-September after the Tali-ban came to power, are located only at military bases in America, thousands more await distribution at sites in Europe and the Middle East. In what conditions they are kept and what awaits them further – in the material of “Gazeta.Ru”.

US President Joe Biden signed a memorandum doubling the limit on refugee admissions in fiscal 2022, which began in the country on October 1. This was reported by the press service of the White House.

Previously, the United States was allowed to host 62.5 thousand refugees, no-w 125 thousand people can count on entering the country. According to the memorandum, each region of the world has its own limits on the reception of refug-ees. Most of all, Washin-gton is ready to accept people from Africa – 40 thousand people. The asylum will be able to receive 35 thousand people from the Middle East and South Asia. The United States is ready to accept 15,000 each from East Asia, Latin Ame-rica and the Caribbean, 10,000 each from Europe and Central Asia, and another 10,000 is listed as an undistributed reserve.

Despite the fact that America is ready to accept no more than 10 thousand people from Central Asia, this issue becomes especially urgent in connection with the situation with the refugees from Afghanistan, evacuated by the United States during August-September during the withdrawal of its troops.

According to official data, the United States rem-oved about 124 thousand people from Afghanistan, 6 thousand of whom are American citizens. 53 thousand Afghans were stationed at eight military bases on the territory of America itself, some more remain at their facilities in Europe and the Middle East (in particular, in Germany, Qatar and Kosovo). However, the exact number of refugees not yet distributed is unknown.

A week ago, Reuters, citing its own sources, reported that Afghan refugees began to leave the US military bases en masse, where they were awaiting a solution to emigration issues. At that time, at least 700 people were known to have left the bases, and their number continued to grow.

A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security ( DHS ), speaking on condition of anonymity, told the agency that leaving Afghans most often have relatives or acquaintances in the country who can help them with housing, finding jobs and schools for their children.

Experts in immigration issues noted that people evacuated from Afghanistan do not formally violate American laws by going “free floating”, and the leadership of military bases has no legal grounds to prevent them.

Officials noted that all Afghans fleeing the bases were thoroughly checked by security services before arriving in the United States. Almost all those exported from Afghanistan are people who helped the Americans during their stay in the Central Asian country, as well as their family members. That is, citizens loyal to the United States. Experts said many Afghans fear America’s complex and bureaucratic immigration system, which could take months to confirm their official status in the United States.

At the same time, representatives of the US migration service noted that Afghans who leave the bases on their own are deprived of the advantages that the state can give them. In particular, they cannot count on an accelerated receipt of a residence permit and “lifting money”, which they could use to move to their place of residence, rent an apartment for the first time and place their children in schools. Back in September, Washington decided on a one-time payment to all evacuees in the amount of $ 2,275. In addition, Congress and the State Department are still negotiating additional cash benefits for imported Afghans, providing them with benefits, including health insurance. In total, the American authorities have asked legislators for about $ 6.4 billion to accommodate refugees from Afghanistan.

Critics of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and the deployment of refugees in the United States have already expressed concerns about the Afghans fleeing the army barracks. They note that residents of settlements near the military run the risk of encountering people with no means of livelihood, not familiar with American laws and traditions.

Many of the evacuated Afghan citizens have received military training. Ordinary Americans fear that they may include supporters of radical Islamist views.

Since the end of August, the American media have reported that the number of crimes committed on the territory of military camps has increased due to the Afghans. We are talking primarily about the bases of Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. However, the head of the Northern Command of the US armed forces, General Glen Vanherk, said that crime among Afghans at American bases is significantly lower than in the country as a whole – only eight cases of theft and robbery were detected in six weeks.

Vanherk also noted that now the most common factor hindering further redistribution of Afghans is their lack of measles and coronavirus vaccinations.

In late August and early September, measles outbreaks occurred among Afghan citizens at several refugee centers in Europe. Because of this, the operation to evacuate them in the United States was suspended. It was about 10-15 thousand people.

On October 7, Major General Corey Martin, Director of Operations Directorate for Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) of the US Armed Forces, announced that all of them had received preventive vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella, and now the transport of refugees has resumed.

Many Afghan refugees who have not yet reached the United States and are awaiting distribution at transit points at military installations in Europe and the Middle East have repeatedly expressed fears about their future. Tens of thousands of people who have not yet been transported to the United States are afraid of protracted migration processes, and also complain about the intolerable conditions of temporary stay. For example, refugees stationed in Qatar said that they are being held in giant unconditioned hangars in 45-degree heat, and there is only one shower and toilet for hundreds of people.

Leave a Comment