Nearly 15,000 Americans are being held in Afghanistan without knowing how to return home. The State and Defense Departments, among others, have no official plan to ensure their evacuation.
This was reported to a group of senators. The main difficulty is that they do not know how to get those citizens through Taliban checkpoints before reaching Kabul, the capital city home to the largest airport. Fox News quoted them as saying Aug. 18.
“The situation is dire,” said Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, adding, “But we’ll do everything in our power to help keep you informed and to help get you out.”
For his part, Senator Tom Cotton’s office staff set up a hotline for stranded people trapped behind Taliban lines seeking information on getting out, hundreds of whom used it, according to Military Times.
The State Department also set up a hotline for the same purpose, but its notices confuse people desperate to get out of that country.
“Do not call the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for details or updates about the flight,” the department warns.
And also, “Do not travel to the airport until you have been informed by email that departure options exist.”
Even more serious appears to be the plight of thousands of Afghans who risked their lives helping the United States over the past two decades, many of them as interpreters and who continue to seek Special Immigration Visas.
In this regard, those in charge of the veterans’ charity and service organization, No One Left Behind commented on the situation of these people seeking their help and the lack of response to their petitions.
“State and [International Organization for Migration] aren’t returning calls,” they wrote.
They added: “We are working as fast as possible to answer all communications. You are not alone.”
In one of their tweets they added a video in which an Afghan citizen asks what to do, because after serving the U.S. the Taliban want to kill him.
“Transcript: “This was our people’s service with the US in Afghanistan. They [Taliban] want to kill me. What do I do now”? the man in the video asked.
With the risk of a humanitarian crisis looming, Amnesty International officials rushed to the U.S. and other foreign governments to get the paperwork done.
They should be “expediting visas, delivering support for evacuations from Kabul airport, providing relocation and resettlement, and suspending all deportations and forced returns,” they said.
In this context, President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the Taliban are willing to grant “safe passage for civilians to the airport,” according to Fox News.
Jason Crow, D-Colorado, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, said, “My heart is broken, like most veterans, I left a part of me in Afghanistan.”
He added, “Later we’ll debate the failures of the last 20 yrs, but today our mission is clear: hold the airport as long as possible and get all U.S. citizens and as many Afghan partners out as we can.”