Broad Coalition of Organizations Welcomes Arrival of First Afghan Allies, Calls for Full Evacuation to U.S. Territory
WASHINGTON – The State Department today confirmed that approximately 2,500 Afghans – 700 nationals who aided the U.S. war effort and their families – will be temporarily housed at a U.S. army base in Fort Lee, Virginia. While there are still many questions regarding the timing of the relocation and the legal status of these individuals, we welcome the administration’s plan to relocate these allies to U.S. territory and expect all our Afghan allies to be flown to U.S. territory as well.
“The administration is taking a positive first step by expediting the relocation of 2,500 Afghan allies and their families directly to U.S territory,” said Chris Purdy, Project Manager of Veterans for American Ideals, a program at Human Rights First. “These arrivals represent about 4% of the Afghans who need U.S protections. The administration must follow the Fort Lee precedent and bring the remaining allies directly to U.S. territory for their visa processing.”
“Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has resettled more than 9,000 of our Afghan allies, and we stand ready to welcome and support thousands more,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “We are grateful the first group of our allies and their families will be brought safely to Fort Lee, and we look forward to welcoming them into our communities as neighbors and friends as they begin their new lives in the United States. At the same time, however, we are deeply concerned for our allies who remain in grave danger in Afghanistan, uncertain of their fate. These courageous individuals risked their lives for the U.S. mission. They deserve evacuation to U.S. soil, where their safety, dignity, and human rights will be protected. We must keep our promise and offer them the same protections that our allies in Fort Lee will receive.”
Human Rights First, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the International Refugee Assistance Project and the Association of Wartime Allies lead a broad, multifaceted coalition that has long advocated for a concrete plan to evacuate the 18,000 Afghan allies and their families to the relative safety of U.S. territory in Guam. Guam’s governor has invited this effort. Members of Congress have endorsed it. There is a strong historical precedent for such a refugee-processing operation to be based in that U.S. territory.
For more about our evacuation plan, visit http://evacuateourallies.org.