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The United States aims to resume regular evacuation flights from Afghanistan

Washington — The State Department plans to resume regular evacuation flights from Afghanistan by the end of the year to help U.S. citizens, residents, and some visa applicants leave the country, State Department officials said. Stated. Other governments.

In addition, Kabul’s international airport remains closed to regular passenger aviation, and it remains unclear who will control air traffic control and ground operations.

A few U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghans were later left behind Chaotic evacuation efforts In the last few weeks of our US presence in Afghanistan, we may qualify for seats on US-sponsored flights.

The last US military departed on August 31, ending the 20-year conflict. Since then, A few flights They carried Americans, Afghanistan, and other foreign passport holders out of Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, leaving some land through border crossings to Central Asian countries and Pakistan.

State Department officials said the State Department has not yet scheduled a date to resume evacuation flights as it continues to work through arrangements with neighboring countries. Among the issues being resolved are documents for travelers, permits to fly in other countries, and procedures with the Taliban and foreign governments.

“We will resume as soon as we have the right combination of documentation and logistics,” a senior State Department official said in an interview.

In Qatar, all passengers must have a valid travel document. Other issues arose regarding the existence of stowaway planes and the spread of fraudulent documents. The United States cannot deport Afghanistan without valid travel documents, and Qatar will not accept them.

“I couldn’t fly in a couple of weeks,” officials said.

A second State Department official said earlier that the United States is working to strengthen charter flights, which is the goal. More than 200 US citizens and residents have departed on such flights since the United States ended its presence in Afghanistan on August 31st.

“Our goal is to accelerate the pace of these ongoing charter flights, and we are working closely with our partners to do so,” officials said.

The Taliban did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Taliban needs most Afghan travelers Have a passportA problem for some Afghans who fear being at risk of retaliation after working for US war and reconstruction efforts over the last two decades.

Some people have destroyed or lost access to the document. The Taliban has reopened its passport office and began issuing documents, but some Afghans are afraid to ride the Taliban’s radar when they apply to leave the country.

The State Department is finally aiming to carry out several flights a week, officials said. According to State Department officials, the United States plans to centralize evacuation activities through Qatar, where evacuees will be processed at Al Udeid Air Base.Previously, Afghans were evacuated In many countries In the Middle East and Europe for processing.

The Taliban have been trying to project an image of security and normality since regaining power. But as WSJ’s Sune Rasmussen reports from Kabul, severe punishment, violence, and a crackdown on basic freedoms are becoming a reality.Photo: Burent Kurchi / AFP / Getty Images

Evacuation flight seating priorities are given to US citizens, US legal permanent residents, and their close relatives who are still in the country. These flights are eligible for the rest of the US Embassy staff and applicants for a special immigrant visa program for Afghans who have worked in the United States and have passed most security checks.

The State Department estimated in September that less than 200 Americans who wanted to leave were left behind. Since then, some have left the country and others have appeared in search of help leaving Afghanistan. Non-governmental organizations say the numbers are high.

“I think we’re ready to do this for a foreseeable future, which is certainly a reason to reorganize our overall efforts,” said the first official.

Applicants for special immigrant visa programs for former US military and civil servants are also eligible for seats. However, you must have completed most of the review procedures required for the process. Officials said the State Department is continuing to process visa applications and more people will be eligible for flights as the State Department processes the unprocessed portion.

Other endangered Afghans, such as female judges and civil servants, are not eligible for evacuation flights under current plans. For them, the only option is to escape Afghanistan by their own means and apply for asylum in a third country. This is a distant prospect for most people who lack the resources to make a dangerous escape and may wait years for the documents to be processed.

Regional officials said Qatar Airways was planning to operate a State Department flight and Washington wanted to launch this week.

The U.S. military has disabled and destroyed some of the airport’s flight controls that departed in August. Qatar troops guarded the parking lot in early September and implemented terminal security for the flight. Gulf technicians also spent several days getting the airport operational during the day.

Other bureaucratic and operational issues have hampered the process of arranging regular US evacuation flights.

“I think we only have to deal with charter flights until the airport is reopened. Regular airlines are very willing to pay the required premiums or fly to Afghanistan. I find it difficult, “said the first senior State Department official.

Biden administration Under pressure Do more to help the left-behind Afghans from lawmakers, veterans, and other supporters.The United States and its allies airlifted nearly 100,000 Afghans abroad 2 weeks in operation August after the Taliban seized power, according to the Immigration Research Center, a non-profit organization. State Department officials say most special immigrant visa applicants have been left behind.

Afghanistan under Taliban control

Write to Jessica Donati jessica.donati@wsj.com

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The United States aims to resume regular evacuation flights from Afghanistan

Source link The United States aims to resume regular evacuation flights from Afghanistan

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