FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2021
International Refugee Assistance Project: Spencer Tilger, email@example.com, (646) 761-2556
Human Rights First: Paola Amador, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 615-9903
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: Timothy Young, email@example.com, (443) 257-6310
The Truman National Security Project: Puja Basnet, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Afghan-American Foundation: Joseph Azam, email@example.com
EVACUATE OUR ALLIES COALITION MEMBERS CALL FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR AFGHANISTAN EVACUATION
“The Biden administration’s August 31 deadline is not our deadline” say veterans and advocates
(Washington, D.C.) – Today marks President Biden’s deadline for the end of operations in Afghanistan but members of Evacuate Our Allies – a coalition of veterans, human rights, religious, and refugee organizations working on the evacuation of Afghans to safety – said that the mission continues to support those seeking to evacuate and emigrate whether to the United States or a safe third location, preferably a U.S. territory.
A video of the webinar can be viewed here.
Afghans who helped the United States and those who are particularly vulnerable in the face of Taliban rule have been left behind by the Biden administration. American citizens and Afghans remain in need of evacuation.
“The immense joy we have felt for our few clients who managed to escape, primarily through sheer luck and their own perseverance, has been overshadowed by the pain and frustration we feel for those hundreds of thousands who remain trapped. The unwillingness of the U.S. government to protect these trusted allies is an unconscionable failure that could have been avoided,” said Adam Bates, Policy Counsel at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), which provides legal services to displaced people. “The United States not only has an ongoing moral but also a legal obligation to protect them and all Afghan allies.The evacuation is not over, the mission is not complete, until every Afghan evacuee is on a path to status, and every Afghan ally left behind has a safe place to live and a safe way to get there.”
“As this date passes, what is certain is that Afghans faced with mortal risk — like any other human beings in that situation — will try anything to get themselves and their families away from danger. Those of us who can, are and will continue to do everything possible to make those efforts as safe, as likely to succeed, and as well supported as possible,” said Michael Breen, CEO and President of Human Rights First and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “In the coming days, weeks, months, even years, we are going to have to make sure that we do not take our eyes off of this situation and continue to welcome our Afghan friends to ensure they reach true safety.”
“According to our research on U.S. government reports, as many as 118,000 potential principal SIV applicants and their family members have been left behind in Afghanistan. While we are still awaiting the count from the administration, what has been obvious is that the vast majority of individuals who applied for Special Immigrant Visas were not included in the evacuation. These highly vetted and trusted allies, their spouses, and children are constantly on our minds. The Association of Wartime Allies will continue to advocate and support those Afghans who have been left behind, and for those who are scattered across the world,” said Adam Malaty-Uhr, a board member with the Association of Wartime Allies.
“It bears repeating that this mission is far from over. We are bound by honor to do everything in our power to open robust pathways to protection for these individuals and families. When these allies and refugees arrive in the United States, our dedicated staff, in partnership with community support, stand ready to welcome our Afghan brothers and sisters. That is who we are as a nation and a people. We welcome refugees not because they are American, but because we are American,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, a leading national refugee resettlement organization.
“The Truman National Security Project remains steadfast in its commitment to our Afghan partners and allies who have worked alongside us for the past two decades. We are heartened that the Biden administration has committed to fulfilling America’s sacred promise to evacuate SIVs and other Afghan partners and we are counting on them to realize that commitment.
“The White House, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, must also focus on ensuring our Afghan partners are evacuated safely, securely, and with dignity. We owe them humane conditions during passage and a warm welcome as they arrive in communities around the country. We owe them the right to seek asylum expeditiously. These partners have undergone extensive vetting at multiple stages, dating from their initial service to the United States and again prior to their arrival in the United States. They are our friends, they are our supporters, and should be treated as such. Truman will persist in our efforts to bring our partners and allies to safety. Our moral standing as a nation depends on our ability to fulfill our sacred obligation to those who have long stood by our side and kept us from harm’s way,” said Jenna Ben-Yehuda, President and CEO of the Truman National Security Project.
“President Biden has said that America has always been shaped by inflection points, by moments in time where we’ve made hard decisions about who we are and what we want to be. Those questions of who and what have yet to be adequately answered in our withdrawal. Our ability and our moral obligations to finish the job were not on the last American military plane out of Kabul,” said Joseph Azam, Board Member, Afghan-American Foundation, a non-partisan organization focused on the interests of Afghan-Americans and helping lead the Afghan-American response to the current crisis. “This is deeply personal for Afghan-Americans. What we are hearing firsthand from friends and family in Afghanistan — especially outside of Kabul and beyond the reach of international media — has been clear, consistent and devastating. The war is not over, the suffering is not over. Our work has just begun.”
IRAP’s recommendations for the Biden administration and Congress can be found here.
To learn more about the work of the coalition visit www.evacuateourallies.org.