Afghans who backed US military to be evacuated

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Washington, July 15 (IANS) The US will launch “Operation Allies Refuge” in late July to evacuate eligible Afghan nationals and their families who helped the American military during the two-decade war in the South Asian country, White House Press Secretary jen Psaki announced.

“Flights out of Afghanistan for SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) applicants who are already in the pipeline will begin in the last week of July and will continue,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a daily briefing.

“our objective is to get individuals who are eligible relocated out of the country in advance of the removal, of the withdrawal of troops at the end of August.”

She did not provide a specific number of qualified applicants, citing operational and security reasons.

“We are working closely with Congress to change the authorisation legislation so that we can streamline the process of approving these visas,” she added.

According to media reports, an estimated 18,000 applicants are already awaiting visas, with an estimated 53,000 family members seeking to accompany them.

The application process can take as long as 800 days, Xinhua news agency reported.

President Joe Biden’s administration has been facing pressure from lawmakers to work out a plan to evacuate Afghans who helped the US military and are vulnerable to Taliban reprisals amid the withdrawal of troops.

President Biden announced last week that US military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31, days ahead of his original September 11 deadline.

The US Central Command said on Tuesday that the military has already completed over 95 per cent of the withdrawal.

The security situation in the war-torn country has deteriorated as Taliban militants continue heavy fighting against government forces and are gaining ground since the drawdown of the US troops on May 1.

–IANS
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