A year after US 'disastrous' Kabul withdrawal, the situation remains bleak for Afghan allies

A year after US 'disastrous' Kabul withdrawal, the situation remains bleak for Afghan allies
A year since the Taliban began its rapid takeover of Afghanistan, the situation remains particularly precarious for Afghans who worked for the US military and continue to wait for their visas to be processed.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
05 August, 2022
Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport [Getty]

A year after a NATO withdrawal and evacuation of Afghanistan, the situation remains dire for Afghan allies who continue to await their visas to the US. 

On a media conference call on Thursday, refugee advocates and experts emphasised the need for the US to fulfill its moral and legal obligation to protect the tens of thousands of Afghan allies and their families stranded in Afghanistan. 

The US completed a rushed withdrawal from Afghanistan on 30 August, with the Taliban taking over the country and heightening fears about the fate of Afghans who worked with NATO forces.

"The US has come up with such creative ways to break promises to Afghans, but that creativity never seems to be applied to solutions," Joseph Azam, board chair of the Afghan-American Foundation, said.  

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"It's been clear from day one that this withdrawal was hasty, and it's been clear that the hope of the administration was to turn the page quickly and hope that the public would clear their psyches."  

However, he noted: "That is absolutely not what happened. There is a unified, strong, and relentless group of advocates that will not let that happen, but we need the help of the American public." 

A year after the US-led military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the vast majority of Afghans live in abject poverty, with the situation of Afghan allies particularly dire.

Tens of thousands of Afghans and their families who worked with the US, mainly as interpreters, are at risk of being targeted by the Taliban. Special Immigrant Visas are seeing systemic delays, with the US government appearing to be doing little to address this issue. For most Afghans who were paroled into the US, there is still no clear path to permanent status. 

"For the past year, IRAP, and our colleagues from the Evacuate Our Allies coalition have done everything possible to convey this urgency to the Biden administration, while offering concrete and actionable steps they can take today to make pathways to safety work for Afghans at risk," said Sunil Varghese, policy director with the International Refugee Assistance Project, which repeatedly warned about this very scenario.

"What we are seeing are small improvements, improvements that can make all the difference for an individual, but that are not nearly commensurate with the size and gravity of the task."