President Joe Biden will announce a plan to house Afghan translators outside their homeland in foreign countries as they await admission into the US as part of his address regarding the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal reported the plans on Thursday ahead of Mr Biden’s speech later in the day, and noted that the United Arab Emirates and Qatar were two of the countries being considered to host the Afghan refugees as they await final admission for their families into the United States.
At a White House news conference following the publication of the Journal’s report, press secretary Jen Psaki declined to comment which countries or areas would house Afghans who served as interpreters and translators for US service members, but confirmed that the US was intent on moving them out of the country before the September deadline by which all US combat forces will withdraw.
“We have [launched] an operation to physically relocate thousands of these Afghans and their families before the US military mission concludes,” Ms Psaki said.
“That operation has identified facilities outside of the continental United States as well as third countries. Because of security reasons we’re not going to outline in detail where those are,” she added.
Flights to those areas will continue through August, Ms Psaki continued.
The safety of thousands of Afghans who aided the US during its nearly twenty years in their country is thought to be seriously jeopardized by rapid Taliban advances that have occurred as US troops have begun a formal withdrawal from long-held positions.
Some experts have warned that the country risks falling completely back into the hands of the Taliban, a result that would erase much of the gains made by US forces over the past two decades. The US’s longest war cost America nearly $2.3 trillion, and resulted in the deaths of 2,442 US service members and more than 100,000 Afghan civilians and members of the country’s armed forces, who now face the brunt of the Taliban’s offensives.
Millions of Afghans were also displaced internally and around the world as a result of the violence.
The Biden administration came under pressure earlier this year to develop a plan to shield or evacuate Afghan allies from the region as the president announced that he was continuing with plans originally set by the Trump administration to withdraw all US combat troops from the country. Former President Donald Trump had last year agreed upon a May 1 date for all US troops to leave, a date that was extended by Mr Biden.
Earlier this year, a Republican congressman and former Green Beret warned that Mr Biden would have “blood on his hands” if he did not order an evacuation of Afghan interpreters from the region.
“If he doesn't act, and he doesn't get these people out, blood will be on his hands and on his administration's hands,” said Rep Michael Waltz at a press conference in June, adding: “The time for talk, the time for debate is over.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies