Human Rights First Calls on Biden Admin Ensure Evacuation for All Afghan Allies
WASHINGTON — As the Pentagon moves military forces to Afghanistan to evacuate American citizens and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Human Rights First calls on the Biden administration to use those forces also to evacuate SIVs and their families. Administration and military officials predict that the Afghan government could fall as soon as 30 days from now, there are still key unanswered questions about the evacuation of Afghan allies who worked with U.S. forces during the war.
Over the past week, major Afghanistan cities have fallen to the Taliban, including Kandahar, the original home of the Taliban insurgency. While the U.S. is sending 3,000 Marines to secure the embassy and putting another 3,500 troops on standby, these forces won’t be able to do anything to protect our allies who are eligible for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program in areas outside of government control.
“These troops should be used to protect lives and evacuate as many Afghans as possible. The seriousness of this moment cannot be overstated. Our generation is facing it’s Saigon moment and we must act. We are seeing an irreversible scenario where thousands of SIVs are behind Taliban lines with no hope of escaping,” said Chris Purdy, Director of Veterans for American Ideals, a project of Human Rights First. “U.S. troops should also be tasked with quickly organizing the evacuation of Afghans eligible for the SIV and refugee programs, as well as protecting the lives of Americans in the country. There are serious long-term consequences for our forces if we leave our allies behind.”
The status of the SIVs evacuation remains unknown as the administration has yet to announce where it will locate Afghans eligible for evacuation. While several third country options have been floated as potential relocation sites, the American territory of Guam makes the most sense. In addition to the Guamanian governor’s endorsement of using the island as an evacuation location, we have a moral obligation to use American territory. The administration should not be looking to outsource this work to a third country.
“There have been nearly 1,200 Afghans who have arrived at Fort Lee and have begun their resettlement process. This represents around 1% of the total number of allies who need to be evacuated,” said Purdy. “If the Biden administration continues at its current pace, it would take until March 2023 to evacuate all the eligible Afghans out of the country. The administration must act swiftly by using these military forces effectively and allowing more flights out of the country so our allies can begin life safely on American soil.”
Human Rights First continues the call for the end of America’s longest war, including protecting Afghan allies who supported the U.S. for the last two decades. Along with coalition allies, Human Rights First and its project Veterans for American Ideals continue to observe the situation on the ground while hoping for a swift diplomatic solution.