23,876 Afghans “at risk” have already arrived in the United States

23,876 Afghans

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Va., August 31, 2021.

Evelyne Hawkstein | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 23,000 Afghan refugees deemed ‘at risk’ have arrived in the United States, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday, a number that exceeds one of all evacuees who have been driven out of Kabul over the past two years. – Represents more than a sixth. month.

Price told reporters that 2,785 lawful permanent residents as well as 4,446 US citizens had arrived in the country as part of the airlift. As of August 31, the total number of people entering the United States after leaving Afghanistan was 31,107.

Price said those numbers are likely to increase as more people, Afghans and Americans, are processed through customs.

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing on Wednesday that most Afghan refugees are being held at seven military bases across the country.

About 20,000 more evacuees are currently at seven assembly bases in the army’s command zone, which includes the Middle East, with 23,000 others at seven assembly bases in Europe, he said.

The new figures provide a glimpse of massive humanitarian and immigration efforts in the days and weeks to come, as the international community tries to find permanent asylum for families facing imminent threats from the new Afghan Taliban government .

They also serve as a counterpoint to criticisms of President Joe Biden, who say the White House has not done enough to help vulnerable Afghans.

The US military alone is preparing to house and treat a total of 50,000 evacuees, many of whom served in US forces during the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

“Some of these brave Afghans are coming to America to build new lives with their families,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at Wednesday’s briefing.

He added that any potential immigrant arriving in the United States would have to go through “careful screening and security checks.”

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Afghan civilians arriving in the United States are temporarily evacuated to Fort Lee, Fort Pickett and Marine Corps Quantico Base in Virginia, Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Fort Bliss in Texas and Holoman Air Force Base will be guarded. in New Mexico.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that military bases are “not a place for people to live”. “It is a place where people will go, they will receive medical care and support and connect with refugee resettlement organizations that play an important role when refugees arrive in our country, from where they come from across the country. world.”

Saki said the United States is also working with third countries to determine their capacity and willingness to accept refugees from Afghanistan.

Canada has already announced that it is ready to accept 20,000 Afghan refugees. Australia has offered asylum to around 3,000 people. And the UK says 5,000 refugees will be housed in the coming year, with a long-term target of 20,000.

Just 48 hours after the United States officially withdrew its last soldier from Afghanistan, many questions remain unanswered about the next steps in the evacuation.

Many of them left their countries with nothing but their clothes and travel documents. Some of the displaced have no documents.

What started as a giant military airlift has turned into a massive immigration control project.

The lead agency for the resettlement effort will be the Department of Homeland Security, which has already started to build a multi-agency integrated coordination group.

The State Department is also expected to play a major role in the first phase of resettlement, which will include processing thousands of “special immigrant visas” issued to Afghans working for the United States.

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