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IRAP Calls for the Immediate Evacuation of Afghan Allies, Presses for Urgency and Expansive Plans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     

July 7, 2021


Henrike Dessaules


(Washington, D.C.) – Nearly three weeks ago and after 20 years of war, the Biden Administration announced their intent to evacuate some U.S.-affiliated Afghans out of harm’s way. As of today, there is still no plan, no Afghans have been evacuated, and the window to protect them via an evacuation is closing rapidly. With this week’s reports that the U.S. has completely withdrawn from Bagram Air Base, President Biden’s promise that Afghan allies would not be left behind rings hollow.    

While the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) welcomes the Administration’s announcement regarding relocation for Afghans whose lives are in danger because of their work with the United States, the lack of clarity and ongoing delay in any concrete steps is not only disappointing but truly alarming. Equally concerning are reports that any evacuation will leave behind some Afghan allies, and those who are relocated will be taken to countries in the Middle East or Central Asia, rather than to U.S. soil. 

This is unacceptable. The Administration must immediately begin an evacuation of all Afghans affiliated with the United States, and the evacuation must be to U.S. soil to ensure adequate due process. Every moment’s delay puts the lives of these allies in mortal danger. 

“While we were relieved to hear that the Administration is finally discussing how they will protect the lives of those who risked everything to support the U.S., the delay in any tangible action is unconscionable,” said Sunil Varghese, Policy Director of IRAP. “Who is leading this effort? Who is being evacuated? Where are they being relocated to? How long will they be there? What happens to those left behind? There is no excuse for this lack of clear details or this hesitation. U.S. affiliated Afghans and their families are being targeted every day. If President Biden does not act quickly and decisively, the looming humanitarian catastrophe and the moral failure to prevent it may be his legacy in Afghanistan.”

In response to the Administration’s plans with regards to U.S. affiliated Afghans, IRAP recommends the following actions, laid out in further detail here:

  • The Administration must immediately appoint an Interagency Task Force to organize resources to stand up the evacuation. 
  • Evacuation should be for as many Afghans as possible, including family members, those working on behalf of the U.S. under grants or cooperative agreements, and those at any stage of SIV processing. Afghans should not be punished for delays, inefficiencies, or erroneous decisions resulting from a broken SIV process.
  • Any relocation site must respect international humanitarian protection obligations, including the Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture.
  • Evacuation must be followed by concrete plans for robust humanitarian protection of Afghan refugees, including resettlement to the U.S., options for humanitarian parole, and expedited family reunification. 

IRAP calls on the Administration to include these considerations in their planning, act with urgency, and put forth a comprehensive vision for the protection of Afghan civilians.