Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.
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Letters and SIV Application. Some frequently asked questions by Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their ‘volunteer case workers’ is about the Letters of Recommendation and Human Resources Letters. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) has a FAQ article on this topic. https://support.iraplegalinfo.org/hc/en-us/articles/360056581112-What-do-my-recommendation-and-human-resources-letters-need-to-include-for-my-SIV-application-
Refugee Registration in Pakistan. The Afghan Refugee Council of Pakistan has asked the country to accelerate the process of registration of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The Minister for States and Frontier Regions of Pakistan has announced a registration drive for unregistered Afghan refugees in the country. Read more in “Pakistan to Begin Registration of Afghan Refugees”, Tolo News, November 24, 2022.
DHS Fee Exemptions for Afghans. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced it will exempt filing fees and streamline application processing for Afghan nationals who were paroled into the United States for humanitarian reasons on or after July 30, 2021. They will streamline the processing of requests for work authorization, Green Cards, and associated services. “DHS Announces Fee Exemptions, Streamlined Processing for Afghan Nationals as They Resettle in the U.S.”, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, November 8, 2022.
Ireland – Ukrainian Refugees over Afghan Refugees. There are some people that perceive a two-tier system exists for how refugees are treated in Ireland. (Irish Times, Nov 22, 2022).
Belgium and Asylum Crisis. Each day hundreds of refugees from Afghanistan, Africa, and the Middle East arrive at the refugee office in Brussels, Belgium seeking asylum. Many have no jobs or place to live. However, there is criticism that the processing and receptions of refugees is not fast enough. “Asylum crisis in Belgium: A symptom of failing European migration policies?”, Euronews, November 24, 2022.
Canada and Afghan Refugees. If one reads the news diligently you will find that there are what seems to be weekly flights of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to Canada. Each flight carrying hundreds of Afghans to a new home and life. The Canadian government is increasing the number of refugees it will accept over the next three years – among them will be 40,000 Afghan refugees. Prior to the collapse of the ‘air bridge’ of August 2021, Canada had received 3,000 Afghan evacuees. “What is Canada’s Migration Strategy for Afghans?”, The Khaama Press, November 24, 2022.
News About Afghanistan
CSTO Summit. Russian President Putin has called for the Taliban regime to become a more inclusive government. The leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) met in Yerevan, Armenia. The members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. Putin also expressed concerns on the security situation. (Ariana News, Nov 24, 2022)
“I share the concern of colleagues who have spoken out about the situation in Afghanistan. It remains, of course, difficult. The threat of infiltration of militants of various international terrorist organizations into the territory of the CSTO countries is still high, and the spread of extremist ideology among the population of Central Asian countries increases the risk of activation of the radical structures in the region.”President Putin Vladimir, while attending the CSTO conference.
Secretary of State Visit to Qatar. Sec. Blinken paid a visit to Qatar, the site of the World Cup taking place in November and December. He thanked Qatar for its help in dealing with the Afghanistan crisis; especially for its efforts in allowing the U.S. to use its ‘lily pad’ in Doha for the temporary hosting and processing of Afghans flown from Kabul to Qatar. He also visited Afghan refugees at Camp As Sayliyah. (Khaama Press, Nov 23, 2022). The flights from Kabul to Doha are currently suspended while the World Cup is in progress but will likely resume in January. This flight suspension is yet one more example of the ineptness of the Department of State. For months, the Afghan Evac volunteer organizations have been warning the State Department that the flights would be suspended by Qatar during the World Cup and that it needed to line up another ‘lily pad’ for the relocation of Afghans. Despite the economic and diplomatic strength of the United States across the world and the significant presence of DoD bases all over the globe – it failed to come up with another viable and consistent transit and processing location.
Afghan Female Tactical Platoon Program. The United States began deploying SOF Cultural Support Teams to Afghanistan to interact with Afghan women and girls. They soon began a training program, the Female Tactical Platoon for Afghan women, to do much the same type of mission. Afghan and American female soldiers gathered critical intelligence in unprecedented roles that changed the future of women in combat. Read more in “Attitude Shift: How covert teams of female US and Afghan soldiers opened the door for women in combat”, Fox News, November 24, 2022.
Afghan Air Force – More Aircraft Flying. An Afghan Ministry of Defense official says that 40 pilots and technicians have returned to Afghanistan and are now back to work. Over 70 damaged military planes and helicopters have been repaired and are now in service for use by the Afghan Air Force. (AA.com.tr, November 24, 2022.
Life Under the Taliban
Life for Women in Afghanistan. Women in Afghanistan are living under stringent restrictions now that the Taliban are in charge. Jobs have gone away, freedom of movement and expression suppressed, and education is denied. Women have been marginalized and ‘erased’ from public life. “How Can a Bird Fly on Only One Wing?”, Afghanistan Analyst Network, November 22, 2022.
The Comeback of Floggings. The Taliban have been holding public floggings of men and women for the crimes of theft, adultery, and other crimes. This is another example of the Taliban’s application of their strict interpretation of Islamic Law to criminal justice and restoring policies of their rule from 1996 to 2001. “US Slams Taliban for Publicly Flogging Afghan Men, Women”, Voice of America, November 24, 2022.
“Collective Punishment”. The United Nations has accused the Taliban of ‘collective punishment’ as it tries to quell a brewing rebellion. The Taliban has become increasingly confrontational with the civilian population as it tries to counter the National Resistance Front (NRF). “In Afghanistan’s shadowy new conflict, new displacement and new civilian abuses”, The New Humanitarian, November 23, 2022.
Humanitarian Assistance and Economy
Afghan Trust Fund. The board of the Swiss-based Afghan Trust Fund met in Geneva and discussed issues relevant to the $3.5 billion in the fund. Some important decisions were made in regards to the Fund to include Afghan co-chairmanship, establishment of an Afghan advisory committee, where to invest the funds for the highest return, and more. “Afghan Trust Fund Discusses $3.5 Billion in Geneva”, Tolo News, November 22, 2022. Read a press release by the U.S. Department of Treasury on the board meeting (Nov 21, 2022).
Child Pneumonia and Hunger. As winter sets in across the country there is a rise in children going hungry and catching pneumonia. “Afghanistan: Child pneumonia, malnutrition spikes as families face impossible choice: eat or heat”, International Committee of the Red Cross, November 24, 2022.
Germany Provides Funds for Humanitarian Assistance. Over $93 million will be handed over to international organizations that are currently providing aid to Afghanistan. The World Food Program (WFP), the UN Development Program (UNDP), and other NGOs will be receiving the money for disbursement on humanitarian projects, aid, and food. (ATRNews, Nov 24, 2022).
Commentary, Books, and Reports
National Resistance Front (NRF) and Strategy. A recent discussion with the head of foreign relations for Afghanistan’s largest resistance organization brings to light the NRF’s goal of a decentralized Afghanistan. While the NRF is still in the earliest stages of an insurgency it has big hopes for the future of northern Afghanistan. Read more in an article by Philip Wasielewski, a former paramilitary case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, entitled “The Afghan National Resistance Front Outlines Its Strategy: Implications for US Foreign Policy”, Foreign Policy Research Institute, November 21, 2022.
House Hearings on Afghanistan in the Future?. The political party that has a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives can schedule hearings on topics that they have deep concern about. The House Democrats were not that keen on holding hearings on Afghanistan – they would just as soon move on than open up discussions about the botched withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021, the chaotic non-combatant evacuation operation of August 2021, or the years-long failure to fully implement the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program under the Obama, Biden, and Trump administrations. Naturally, the House Republicans are eager to hold hearings on these topics. Hopefully, the hearings will shed light on the policy-making process that led to the disastrous decisions of the last two administrations; but it will likely be a lot of political theater as well. Read Jason Criss Howk’s perspective in “What an Afghanistan Hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives Might Cover”, Clearance Jobs, November 10, 2022.
Report – Annual Conference of Global Friends of Afghanistan. The Inaugural Conference Report and Way Ahead for 2023 report has been published online by the Global Friends of Afghanistan. This 32-page PDF details the activities of the conference held in September 2022 at Georgetown University. The report includes information on the Conference Findings, Upcoming GFA Projects, and GFA Mission and Values. View the report here.
India’s Role with Afghanistan. The Taliban regime and India are exploring ways to improve relations with each other. Since most of the world is shunning the Taliban regime, it needs to reach out to those nations that are willing to interact with it in the diplomatic and economic arena. India has not formally recognized the new regime; however, it does have a ‘technical team’ at its embassy in Kabul. It has also been delivering humanitarian aid. There are concerns that India could use a ‘special relationship’ with Kabul to advance its interests in ‘countering’ Pakistan. “India’s Efforts in Search of New Role in Afghanistan”, by Asad Ullah Khan, Modern Diplomacy, November 22, 2022.
Books about Afghanistan
Photo: KABUL, Afghanistan (July 10, 2018) — Female Tactical Platoon members prepare to search a compound during a capability exercise called a CAPEX, near Kabul, Afghanistan, July 10, 2018. The Female Tactical Platoon supports Afghan Special Security Forces during counterterrorism operations, specializing in the search, questioning and medical assistance of women and children. (NATO photo by Martha Schaeffer, NSOCC-A)