- Zineb Outnouna
The Fate of Afghan interpreters
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Last week, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the State Department approved the relocation of an additional 4,000 Afghans, many of whom were interpreters with American forces. There was only one departure point, Kabul, and since the military cannot provide transportation, any Afghans living in remote areas could take advantage of this offer by making the difficult, but likely dangerous, journey if they chose.
These applicants living outside Kabul, most of whom are under direct threat from the Taliban due to their cooperation with coalition forces during the war, will also not receive security services from the United States. The only other available option for them is to travel to a neighboring country and continue their application process there.
There are thousands of interpreters and family members stuck in Kabul. Many of them have worked with the United States Army for years with the promise that they would be granted a visa for the U.S. Now, they live in a constant fear, they are fearful for themselves, their children, and relatives.
President Biden has vowed to ensure Afghan allies receive special immigrant visas as the military leaves Afghanistan and has come under pressure to do so. The program has received about 20,000 applications.
2,500 Afghans will be moved this month to Fort Lee, Va., south of Richmond, where they will await final processing for roughly 10 days. According to the senior official, 4,000 more applicants requiring further approvals will travel to other countries with their families to complete the visa process before coming to the US. They did not specify which countries would complete the visa process for the applicants.
Earlier this week, the House passed legislation streamlined the application process for special immigrant visas issued by the State Department.