Kabul: In a move that comes as a big relief to those who have been helping foreign troops in Afghanistan, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley said that the Pentagon and State Department are developing plans to evacuate Afghans working with the US as they are currently in danger of being killed by the Taliban after international troops withdraw from the country.
“We recognize that there is a significant number of Afghans who have supported the US and the coalition. They could be at risk. We recognize that a very important task is to ensure that we remain faithful to them, and that we do what’s necessary to ensure their protection, and if necessary, get them out of the country, if that’s what they want to do,” Milley said.
About 18,000 interpreters are waiting for approval for a Special Immigrant Visa, which allows interpreters to bring their families to the United States, according to the veterans group No One Left Behind. Milley did not offer specifics on how the US would help those interpreters leave the country, such as through airlift, but acknowledged that time was quickly running out to help them. US forces are set to leave Afghanistan by September, but that timetable may be pushed up as soon as July, the New York Times reported this week.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Kabul is prioritizing issuing special immigrant visas to Afghans who have worked with the US military and government in Afghanistan. The US Embassy in Kabul has stated that it remains committed to assisting and supporting Afghans who have worked with the US military or government in Afghanistan and whose lives are in danger.
“The priority that my colleagues and I are giving to special immigrant visa applications is a reflection of that commitment,” Ross Wilson said.
The US Embassy in Kabul said that in order to complete interviews with applicants as well as to address applications that were delayed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, the US State Department recently increased the number of US embassy staff in Afghanistan temporarily. “Afghans who work or have worked with the United States will not be forgotten,” said the US embassy in Kabul. The special immigrant visa is a complex and lengthy process for Afghan citizens who have worked with the US military or government in Afghanistan and who themselves and their families are under threat. Applicants must have worked with the US military or government for at least two years between October 7, 2001 and December 31, 2022.
The US Embassy said that after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the US Embassy in Kabul will remain active.