(JustPatriots.com)- In the Biden Administration’s haste to bug out of Afghanistan, the fate of those Afghans who worked alongside Americans during the nearly 20-year-long war was of significant concern. Many criticized the White House for not having in place a plan to evacuate these refugees prior to the start of the withdrawal of US forces. The special visa process is lengthy, and time was not on their side.
But finally, the evacuation of these Afghan refugees has gotten underway. Last Friday, the first of these flights with more than 200 fleeing Afghans were flown out of Afghanistan to start their lives in the US.
The US hopes to relocate the thousands of interpreters, office workers and others who fear retaliation from the Taliban for their working with the US. Both these Afghan workers and their families will be evacuated out of Afghanistan.
The flight that arrived at Dulles airport last Friday had 221 Afghans aboard. These are the first of about seven hundred who have currently qualified for the special visa program. Among those aboard were 57 children and fifteen babies.
President Biden welcomed the Afghan refugee flight calling it an “important milestone” as the US fulfills its promise to those Afghans “who served shoulder-to-shoulder” with both the US military and diplomats.
The evacuation effort, called Operation Allies Refuge, has broad bipartisan support from US lawmakers, as well as from veterans groups. It is not uncommon for the Taliban to target Afghans who allied with US forces or within the Afghan government. Last week, both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly both for funding for the operation, as well as an additional 8,000 visas to ensure these Afghan allies could be evacuated to the US.
The new arrivals will join the 70,000 others who have been resettled in the US since 2008 under the special visa program.
Additional evacuation flights are expected to bring the rest of those approximately 700 Afghans who are furthest along in the visa process, having won approval and cleared a security screening.
Friday’s arrivals were screened for COVID-19 and received the vaccine if they chose to. They are expected to stay at Fort Lee in Virginia for about a week, completing medical exams and additional final steps. Resettlement organizations will then help them travel to communities around the country. Some of the evacuees will be reunited with family already in the US.