Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, Commandos left behind, USRAP and P1 / P2s, California family now home, IS-KP, Haqqani network, women in Afghanistan, the modern suicide bomber of the Taliban, OCHA report, UNHCR providing shelters, human rights report, . . . . . and more.
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Evacuation from Afghanistan
“John Can’t Hang Up the Phone”. There are many veteran-based organizations currently working on a volunteer basis to assist at-risk Afghans that are being hunted by the Taliban and killed when found. There have been many success stories but more failures in this massive effort on the part of volunteers who have devoted the past several months to the Afghan evac effort. It takes its toll on this ad hoc community doing a job that the Department of State and Department of Defense should be doing. “A Veterans Day letter to President Joe Biden”, Military Times, November 4, 2021.
Afghan Commandos – Left Behind. There are many veterans of the Afghan conflict that are wondering why the most effective fighters of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) are being left at the back of the queue for evacuation. Many of these Afghan Commandos are on the run – having left their homes and possessions to hide with friends or relatives to escape detection and then death at the hands of the Taliban. It is estimated that as many as 6,000 Afghan Commandos are in hiding. Under the current Department of State scheme for prioritizing evacuees, a barber who worked at Bagram Air Field has a higher evacuation priority than an Afghan Commando who served alongside U.S. Army Special Forces personnel in the conflicts toughest battles year after year. “Why won’t Biden save the Afghan commandos”, by Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner, November 4, 2021.
USRAP Flow Chart. The United States Refugee Admissions Program has a flow chart posted online that describes the different categories of overseas refugees and the steps needed to come to the United States. These categories are defined as P-1 Referral, P-2 Groups of Special Concern, and P-3 Family Reunification. (PDF, one page)
Resources for P-1 and P-2 Eligible Afghans. Some informational resources are provided on a website by Task Force ARGO for those Afghans who believe they are eligible for either Priority-1 or Priority-2 designation.
California Family Now Home. A mother and four children trapped in Afghanistan are finally reunited with her husband in California. Once the Taliban took over they were forced into hiding and moved between safehouses to elude the Taliban. “California family trapped in Afghanistan is headed home”, Stars and Stripes, November 3, 2021.
Army Sergeant Assists in Evacuation. An Army supply sergeant of the Vermont-based 424th Engineer Company is currently deployed to Kuwait to assist in the Afghan evacuation effort. She emigrated to the United States from Russia as a child and vividly recalls the challenges of being a stranger in a new land. She assisted in welcoming, processing, and housing of approximately 5,000 at-risk Afghans during the Kabul NEO. “Amidst Afghan evacuation, an American Soldier shares her immigration story”, DVIDS, November 1, 2021.
Leaving Afghanistan via Spin Boldak. The recently reopened border crossing at Spin Boldak – Chaman is the location of thousands of Afghans who are attempting to leave Afghanistan. Some others wanting to cross for business purposes, export of produce, or medical attention. But the vast majority want to escape living under Taliban rule.
Taliban and Security
IS-KP – A Growing Threat. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was supposed to end the violence and increase security in the country. However, the Islamic State – Khorasan Province, an affiliate of the Islamic State, has not put down their weapons. The group, based primarily in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar, have increased their attacks against the Taliban and Shiite minorities. “ISIS Poses a Growing Threat to New Taliban Government in Afghanistan”, The New York Times, November 3, 2021.
Haqqani Network. The most lethal and vicious element of the Taliban is playing a major role in some of the leading government institutions. The Haqqani leadership has become firmly entrenched among the leadership of the new government. “With Haqqanis at the Helm, the Taliban Will Grow Even More Extreme”, Foreign Policy, November 4, 2021.
Taliban Suicide Bombers. During the insurgency against the Afghan government one of the favored tactics of the insurgents was using young men to detonate bombs against government or military targets. Most times these attacks would kill more civilian bystanders than the intended targets. But even today the Taliban are using suicide bombers. The regime has established the ‘Martyrdom Brigade’ who are members of an elite cadre. “As Taliban Attempts to Transform from Insurgency to Government, Suicide Bombers Remain Key to Its Strategy”, Gandara, November 4, 2021.
Russia Warns Resistance Groups Not to Cause Problems. The spokesperson of the Russian foreign ministry called upon the resistance front co-led by Ahmad Masoud and Amrullah Saleh to solve their conflicts with the Taliban regime through dialogue and to not provoke internal conflicts in Afghanistan. (The Khaama Press, Nov 4, 2021)
Women in Afghanistan
Women in Afghanistan – Depression Sets In. Life has become a nightmare for many women in Afghanistan. Female students are no longer able to attend college or secondary school, many women are now excluded from occupations, and they must ‘cover up’ with clothing to hide various parts of their body. The women of Afghanistan have no freedom, no security, and no basic rights. “Extreme Depression, Suicidal Thoughts Haunt Afghan Women Under Taliban Rule”, Gandara, November 4, 2021.
Women’s Underground Network. A growing number of female rights activists working under the radar are determined to fight harsh Taliban policies that restrict women’s freedom. Thus far the group has organized public demonstrations against the Taliban government’s repression of women’s rights. “A rebel, a bureaucrat: The women who stayed in Afghanistan”, Associated Press, November 5, 2021.
Letter to President Biden – Protect Women and Girls of Afghanistan. Twenty four female U.S. senators have sent a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to protect the rights of Afghan women and girls following the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. They are urging that the administration develop an interagency plan to preserve the political, economic, social, and basic human rights of Afghan women and girls. Read text of letter here (Nov 4, 2012, PDF, 3 pages).
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
OCHA Report on Afghanistan. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has published its latest situation report on efforts needed to reduce deaths, prevent displacement of people, and mitigate suffering in Afghanistan. The organization is concerned about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes. The report provides a overview of the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and predicts a further deterioration in the quality of life for Afghans over the coming months as winter approaches. Read the report here, OCHA, November 3, 2021, PDF, 10 pages.
UNHCR Providing Shelters. The United Nations refugee agency is airlifting supplies to Kabul to help thousands of displaced Afghans to build shelters. The planes are carrying in flooring and partitions to improve tent insulation. UNHCR is attempting to provide assistance to 500,000 internally displaced Afghans. It has already provided aid including shelter, food, blankets, and stoves to half a million Afghans this year. “U.N. airlifts winter shelters for displaced Afghans”, Reuters, November 2, 2021.
Afghans ‘Broke and Broken’. More than 50% of Afghans are struggling to find food to eat, many have been displaced, much of the population have lost their jobs and livelihood, and millions are living in inadequate shelters with limited access to basic services. “Ordinary Afghans ‘broke and broken’, warns UN migration agency chief”, UN News, November 4, 2021.
Books, Reports, Podcasts, and Videos
Human Rights in Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of State released its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Afghanistan. The 54-page PDF can be accessed online here.
Photo: U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 86th Medical Support Squadron work in the Expeditionary Medical support system pharmacy set up for evacuees during Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 9, 2021. EMEDS Functions as an intermediary hospital for evacuees with more emergent medical needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexcia Givens)