Topics: News about Afghanistan, evacuation of AMCITs, LPRs, and at-risk Afghans, crossing into Iran, abandoned by the UK, welcomed in Canada, refugee camps in the U.S., female judges in Greece need a home, Cornell University steps up, killings of former ANDSF, food insecurity, Bagram Air Base, and more.
Subscribe to the Afghan Report Newsletter. Arrives in your email inbox every morning five days a week. Forward to your friends! Did we miss an important story? Send us a link and we will put it in our newsletter. Got a story to tell? We accept guest articles.
Evacuation from Afghanistan
DoS’s Strict Criteria for At-Risk Americans. At-risk Afghans are being denied entry to the United States due to the overly strict criteria and bureaucratic obstacles put in place by the Department of State. These Afghans served the United States military for a number of years as interpreters, drivers, maintenance works, and staff workers. They are now being targeted by the Taliban for persecution, have lost their jobs, and have left their homes to evade the Taliban. The Department of State is making it painfully slow if not virtually impossible for many of these Afghan allies to flee a dangerous Afghanistan for the safety of the United States. Meanwhile thousands of migrants from all over the world cross our southern border in record numbers each month. More than half a million people who illegally crossed the border over the past year were released into the United States. None of these people served alongside U.S. troops in combat . . . ever. “Migrants from all over the world cross southern border in record numbers”, Washington Examiner, December 4, 2021.
Crossing Into Iran. Everyday thousands of Afghans board buses in Herat that take them to the Iranian border where they will meet up with smugglers who will take them to destinations in Iran. Once there they will attempt to find a place to live and work. Some will attempt a journey to Europe. Iran currently hosts 3 million Afghans who have settled there over the past few decades. It is struggling to return Afghans – bringing 20,000 to 30,000 Afghans to the Afghan border each week. Smugglers charge about $400 a person – with a minimal amount up front with the rest to be paid upon arrival in Iran and after the Afghan finds work. The smugglers bribe Taliban and Iranian border guards to look away when crossing the border. “Desperation drives thousands of Afghans a day across borders”, AP News, December 7, 2021.
Critique of UK Evacuation of Afghans. A desk officer who worked the United Kingdom’s Afghan evacuation effort has some harsh words for the former UK Foreign Secretary’s performance during the Kabul airlift. “Afghanistan: Foreign Office chaotic during Kabul evacuation”, BBC News, December 7, 2021.
Abandoned by the UK. According to one whistleblower Britain’s Foreign Office did a poor job of evacuating Afghan allies in August 2021. The former Foreign Office employee estimated that only 5% of Afghan nationals who applied to flee under one U.K. program received help. “Whistleblower: As Afghanistan fell, UK abandoned supporters”, Washington Times, December 7, 2021.
Canada Welcomes Refugees. A group of privately-sponsored Afghan refugees arrived in Canada on Thursday, December 2, 2021, at Toronto’s airport. The group was sponsored by Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. “Canada Welcomes First Privately-Sponsor Afghan Refugees”, Immigration.ca, December 3, 2021.
Afghan Evacuee Resettlement
The Numbers. According to Pentagon Press Spokesperson John Kirby, as of December 6th, there were 34,000 Afghans still on seven U.S. military bases awaiting resettlement into communities across the country. The DoD is housing and supporting the Afghans while the Department of Homeland Security conducts the resettlement process through several major resettlement organizations. The bases, even with the closure of Fort Lee’s facility, have a capacity of 46,000 people. There are still some Afghans on the military base in Qatar awaiting transportation to the United States. And, of course, there are several thousands of at-risk Afghans with pending Special Immigrant Visas awaiting contact from someone telling them they have a seat on one of the few Department of State flights from Kabul to Qatar.
Afghan Refugee Bases in the US. More Afghans have been resettled into communities across the country than now remain on US military bases. “34,000 Afghans living on military bases in US”, MSN.com, December 2021.
Yale Medical Teams to Assist Refugees. A refugee organization based in New Haven, Connecticut, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), will be assisted by medical professionals associated with Yale University. “Welcoming New American Families from Afghanistan”, Paw Prints, Yale School of Medicine, December 6, 2021.
Female Judges in Greece Need a Home. A large number of female Afghan judges found a temporary refuge in Greece earlier this year. But their visas are running out and they may soon find themselves living in one of Greece’s refugee camps. One advocate is asking Canada to step up and assist. “Lawyer who helped female judges escape Afghanistan ‘begging’ Canada to take them in”, CBC.ca, December 6, 2021.
Safety at Cornell University. Several Afghan students who managed to get through the chaotic entry points (after several attempts) at the Kabul airport are now prepared to resume their studies at Cornell University. They spent a few months at Camp McCoy and have been extended Humanitarian Parole. “Afghan women scholars find safe haven at Cornell”, Cornell Chronicle, December 7, 2021.
A Long Wait on US Military Bases. A shortage of affordable housing worldwide, a resettlement process that was scaled back during the Trump administration, and the sheer magnitude of numbers of Afghans that were evacuated have caused a bottleneck at the seven different Afghan refugee camps located on military installations across the United States. “Afghans wait and worry at US bases after frantic evacuation”, AP News, December 8, 2021.
Taliban and Security
Killings of Former ANDSF Continue. There are almost daily tragic incidents across Afghanistan of people with ties to the former government or with the Afghan National Defense Security Forces being detained and tortured by the Taliban. The kidnapping, imprisonment, torture, and killing of the ANDSF takes place in both the cities and the rural areas. Despite the announcement of a public amnesty by the Taliban in August 2021 the former Afghan security personnel are being persecuted. Asif Ehsan, an attorney based in Seattle, provides the details in “Abduction and murder of former members of Afghanistan security force continue unabated”, Ehsan Law, December 6, 2021.
Taliban Fighters Now Manning Checkpoints. For years the Taliban have targeted rural checkpoints manned by the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Many of these checkpoints were in rural areas hours away from reinforcements. Some checkpoints in the cities were attacked as well – usually with bomb attacks. Now the roles are reversed. Taliban foot soldiers are manning checkpoints and conducting security patrols. An AP photographer took the opportunity to photograph these Taliban fighters in their new role. “PHOTOS: Afghan Taliban fighters now man urban checkpoints”, AP News, December 8, 2021.
Kabul Airport. There is the possibility that Turkey and Qatar may jointly operate Kabul airport in the future. Currently limited domestic and international service is offered but only during daylight hours. “Turkey, Qatar might ‘act together’ to reopen Kabul airport”, Ariana News, December 7, 2021.
Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion
Food Insecurity. Over 95 % of the country’s population will be on the brink of universal poverty by mid-2022. Many will be experiencing starvation. War, a government in turmoil, Taliban rule, environmental conditions, and a shutdown of foreign aid will all contribute to this tragic situation. Read more in “The Crisis of Food Insecurity in Afghanistan”, Observer Research Foundation, December 8, 2021.
Study on Afghan Withdrawal Needed. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has a provision that calls for an independent bipartisan congressional commission to conduct a detailed examination of the United States involvement in Afghanistan from 1996 to the disastrous withdrawal this past summer. However, it will take months to establish the commission and years to finalize the report. Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistance secretary of defense, argues that a short-term study be conducted to provide some answers about the withdrawal that took place in 2021. “We must learn from the Afghanistan experience starting with the withdrawal”, The Hill, December 6, 2021.
Bagram Air Base and China. A large air base located about 30 minutes north of Kabul has great strategic value to the occupier. That next occupant could be China. The base has modern buildings, runways, ramps, and facilities for numerous aircraft. It could well be a commercial and military hub for China. “US Abandonment of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan Could be Boon for China, Experts Say”, The Epoch Times, December 3, 2021.
Books, Reports, Podcasts, and Videos
Movie – Afghan Evac. A new movie is planned starring actors Tom Hardy and Channing Tatum that will depict the story of three former Special Forces team members who joined their Afghan counterparts to rescue families and allies left behind following the collapse of the ANDSF and Afghan government. (Arab News, Dec 8, 2021).
Photo: Spc. Jahadul Alam, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter repairer out of Fort Hood, Texas, helps a young Afghan evacuee write words in English during the language and education class at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico, Sept. 24, 2021. Alam serves as a translator in support of Operation Allies Welcome and helps teach classes on the alphabet, numbers, and basic manners to Afghan children in order to prepare them for the American education system. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christina Westover, 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)