Afghanistan Update – August 2023

Afghan Commandos Nangarhar Province

Topics: News about Afghanistan, relocation, immigration, resettlement, humanitarian crisis, commentary, books, podcasts, events, and more.

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Relocation from Afghanistan

Leaving Afghanistan

White House Statement on Ending the Afghan War. “Statement from President Biden on the Second Anniversary of Ending the Afghanistan War”, The White House, August 30, 2023. President Biden’s message included:

  • Recognizing the 2,461 U.S. service members who died and the 20,744 who were wounded in action.
  • Paid tribute to the military members, diplomats, intelligence professionals, and development specialists who worked to advance the U.S. Afghan mission for two decades.
  • Noted that the U.S. helped evacuate 120,000 people during the Kabul NEO.
  • Welcomed the 117,000 Afghan newcomers that have arrived over the past two years.
  • Observed the hard work of volunteers and resettlement agencies who have assisted in the relocation and resettlement of Afghans to the U.S.

Afghan Passport Information. The #AfghanEvac coalition has updated its webpage providing information about procuring Afghan passports. You can read the information online or download a PDF. The document has been compiled by #AfghanEvac volunteers based on meetings with U.S. government officials and ‘passport experts’ across the organization’s membership.

Afghanistan Inquiries, Relocation, and CARE. The U.S. Department of State has updated its ‘Afghanistan Inquiries’ webpage. According to those in the Afghan Evac community the update has clarified some previously ill-explained information. It provides details about the duties of the Coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts (CARE) and Afghan relocation eligibility.

Two Years Ago – Kabul NEO. On August 15, 2021, the Taliban entered Kabul and assumed the reigns of government. A few months earlier, the Biden administration announced the implementation of the February 2020 Doha agreement that had been negotiated by the Trump administration. This resulted in an announcement of a full withdrawal of U.S. forces and contractor support. The defeat of the ANDSF, fall of the Afghan government, and chaotic non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) at the Kabul airport took place in August. “Two Years Ago – Taliban Victory and Kabul NEO”, SOF News, August 15, 2023.

The Kabul Airlift. There is a new book out about the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) of August 2021.

CRS Report – Immigration Crimes: Improper Entry and Reentry. The Congressional Research Service has published a document that details the comprehensive framework governing the admission and removal of aliens and immigration-related criminal cases. This report provides a legal overview of improper entry and reentry offenses. August 30, 2023, CRS R47667, PDF, 34 pages.

CRS Report – The Statutory Bars to Reentry into the United States. The Congressional Research Service has published an ‘In Focus’ brief on the reentry bars for aliens who were previously removed. August 30, 2023, CRS IF12484, PDF, 3 pages.

Nepali Guards and Kabul NEO. A sizable contingent of Nepali contractors provided security for U.S. personnel in Kabul. For them, the withdrawal meant a dangerous evacuation – and sudden unemployment. “The Nepali Guards Caught in the Chaotic US Evacuation of Afghanistan”, The Diplomat, August 29, 2023.

Banner Resettlement Afghan Evacuees

Afghan Resettlement

Re-Parole for Afghans. The two-year mark of the end of parole is here for some Afghans who entered the United States in August 2021. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has put together a Frequently Asked Questions on Re-Parole. Afghans already in the United States on Parole, and those working to assist them will find this webpage helpful. See also a video on how to file Form I-131 for Afghan Re-Parole, USCIS, August 24, 2023, YouTube, 10 minutes.

Military Service and Citizenship. Afghans who have a ‘Green Card’ (lawful permanent residents) can join the U.S. military. Once in the military service members can apply for expedited citizenship through naturalization after serving one year in active-duty status.

Zero Unit Members Face Uncertainty. Fighters of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) received work permits when they escaped to the United States. Those permits expire soon, and now some fighters worry their CIA pasts might be working against them. “Afghans who fought in secret CIA-trained force face legal uncertainty in the U.S.”, NBC News, August 29, 2023.

Behavioral Health Support Program. Adjusting to a new life in the United States can be overwhelming for some newly relocated Afghan families. If you know an Afghan family struggling with mental health, then there is assistance available. The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has a Behavioral Health Support Services Program and a 24/7 national crisis hotline to support newly resettled Afghans. Counseling is provided on a need-to-need basis and referrals to the appropriate services are provided.
The Behavioral Health Support Program – U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants

Banner News about Afghanistan

News About Afghanistan

Independence Day. Every year on August 19th Afghanistan celebrates Independence Day. On August 19, 1919, the Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed between Britain and Afghanistan which restored complete sovereignty to the country. This August Afghanistan marked its 104th Independence Day.

NRF News. The National Resistance Front has a news website.

Interview with Dostum. Now in exile, Adbul Rashid Dostum continues to plot revenge against the Taliban and provides details of his long career as an Afghan warlord. “Rebel, Kingmaker, and Accused War Criminal: The Last Confessions of an Afghan Warlord”, Rolling Stone, July 30, 2023.

Afghanistan Impact Report. Since the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in April 2021, Human Rights First has led civil society’s efforts to evacuate, resettle, and protect our Afghan allies and other at-risk Afghans. Over the last two and a half years, Human Rights First has undertaken an organization-wide effort to provide legal assistance, pass legislation, set administrative priorities, and move the culture to welcome Afghans. “Two Year Anniversary of Withdrawal”, Human Rights First, August 2023.

Life Under the Taliban

Revenge Killings. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that the majority of killings and disappearances of former Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) took place in the four months immediately following the Taliban takeover. The UN report documents recent extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and enforced disappearances as well – two years later the violations have not stopped. Read about the report in “No End to Taliban Revenge Killings in Afghanistan”, Human Rights Watch, August 22, 2023. Read the UN report – 22 Aug 2023, PDF, 16 pages.

Killings and Broken Promises. An overwhelming element of vengeance continues to drive the Taliban’s policies. “The Taliban’s Afghanistan: Retribution, Refugees, and Violent Extremism”, The Diplomat, August 29, 2023.

Cameras in Kabul. Thousands of cameras have been installed in Kabul city and efforts may soon be underway to deploy them in all 34 provinces. The security cameras are viewed as key for the reduction of criminal activities in the country. “MoI Says it Installed 62,000 Cameras in Kabul and Key Places”, Tolo News, August 30, 2023.

International Aid and the Taliban. The Taliban government has exercised a growing influence over humanitarian operations within Afghanistan at both the national and local levels. This includes bans on women working for NGOs and the United Nations. In addition, more recent regulations have internationally funded education projects handed over to the Ministry of Education. Read more in “Taleban Perceptions of Aid: conspiracy, corruption, and miscommunication”, Afghanistan Analysts Network, July 30, 2023.

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Commentary, Analysis, and Opinion

Humanitarian Parole – An Imperfect Solution. Afghans that were evacuated to the U.S. are navigating a complicated immigration system. Many Afghans went through a complicated and long journey to get to the United States. Upon arrival they were bewildered about their status and have found out there is no guaranteed pathway to lawful permanent residency in the U.S. In the past, the U.S. has used ‘humanitarian parole’ to allow large numbers of people from a country in crisis (Hungary, Cuba, Vietnam, etc.) for a period of two years, and then, recognizing they were not returning to their home countries – passing an ‘adjustment act’ that provides a pathway to permanent residence. Around 70,000 Afghans received humanitarian parole in late 2021; however, Congress has failed to pass the Afghan Adjustment Act. Now these Afghans are in a legal limbo. “Afghans who were evacuated to the U.S. navigate a complicated immigration system”, National Public Radio, August 27, 2023.

Two Years – No Answers. Beth Baily describes the plight of Afghans in the United States who remain in legal limbo as they seek permanent status in the U.S. “By the numbers: Afghan allies lack answers two years following withdrawal”, Washington Examiner, August 26, 2023.

Afghan War Commission. On August 23, 2023, the Afghanistan War Commission began its work to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. government decisions on Afghanistan between June 2001 to August 2021 – a twenty-year span of time. The commission will conduct this work over the next three years. It is a congressionally mandated independent and bipartisan commission. “How the Afghanistan War Commission aims to learn from our longest conflict”, The Hill, August 30, 2023.


Books about Afghanistan

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Photo: Afghan Commandos Nangarhar province. (DVIDS)