About 20,000 Afghans who worked as interpreters for the United States during their war in Afghanistan and now fear reprisals from Taliban insurgents have called for their evacuation, the White House said Thursday.
“There are about 20,000 Afghans who applied,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Psaki said they are all former translators from the military or other entities, whom the Taliban have targeted.
However, the United States will also consider requests from the families of the interpreters, she said, without specifying how many family members would be allowed.
Some estimates put the number of people eligible to leave at around 100,000.
Officials say evacuations will begin this month.
Interpreters in preparation for the evacuation are those who have already filed applications under the State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters.
Psaki said those who have completed security checks could then be temporarily housed at a US military base.
Those who have yet to go through the verification process will first be sent either to a US base overseas or to a third country “where they will be safely accommodated until their visa processing is in progress.” course, ”Psaki added.
Meanwhile, two senior senators have urged President Joe Biden to speed up evacuations and ensure that Afghans who have helped US intelligence are also included.
“For two decades, thousands of Afghans have risked their lives to work with intelligence professionals from the United States and other NATO countries to fight Al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, ISIS and ‘other terrorist groups,’ wrote Mark Warner and Marco Rubio, the president. and vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Their efforts have contributed to the decimation of Al Qaeda and its ability to attack the American homeland,” they said in a letter to Biden.
They urged Biden to speed up the SIV program, but also to consider evacuating Afghans to third countries and prioritizing them immigrating under U.S. refugee programs.
They wondered if, given the rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan by American forces, there was sufficient capacity to evacuate the Afghans who assisted the Americans.
“To abandon these individuals, who have provided essential support to our intelligence community in Afghanistan, would send a damaging message to our allies and potential partners about the reliability and loyalty of the United States,” they wrote.
“It would also be a stain on our national conscience. “
© 2021 AFP