The Afghans who helped the United States to be evacuated to the Army base in Virginia

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About 2,500 Afghans who worked for the US government will be evacuated to a military base in Virginia with their families pending approval of their visas, the Biden administration said on Monday as the administration quickly prepares to complete the withdrawal US forces from Afghanistan.

Members of Congress have expressed alarm over the plight of Afghans who have worked for the United States for the past 20 years, especially as the Taliban have stepped up their military operations against the Afghan government, taking control of large parts of the country. country as US troops retreat.

The Afghans will be temporarily housed at Fort Lee, a sprawling military base south of Richmond from next week, according to a Defense Department notice sent to Congress. The administration announced earlier this month that it would soon begin resettling Afghan visa applicants under an initiative known as “Operation Allies Refuge.”

In this June 25, 2021 photo, former Afghan interpreters hold placards during a protest against the US government outside the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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In this June 25, 2021 photo, former Afghan interpreters hold placards during a protest against the US government outside the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
(AP Photo / Mariam Zuhaib)

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The group includes 700 Afghans who worked for the United States and approximately 1,800 family members.

“They are courageous Afghans and their families, as we have said, whose service in the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul, and who have carried out extensive security screening processes,” he said. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to say when the first applicants would arrive at Fort Lee, but said they were only expected to stay a few days before being relocated by the State Department and groups. assistance to refugees. Kirby said the Pentagon may offer additional national military bases for similar use depending on the pace of the relocations.

Monday’s announcement came amid growing concerns for the safety of Afghans who served as translators and other support roles for US troops and diplomats during the long war.

In this June 25, 2021 photo, former Afghan interpreters hold placards during a protest against the US government outside the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

In this June 25, 2021 photo, former Afghan interpreters hold placards during a protest against the US government outside the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
(AP Photo / Mariam Zuhaib)

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The group that will be hosted at Fort Lee represents only a small part of the number of Afghans seeking refuge in the United States. About 20,000 people have expressed interest in applying for “special immigrant visas” to move to the United States, but only about half are far enough along in the verification process to be considered for relocation.

Another 4,000 applicants and families who have completed most of the application process but have not yet passed security will be sent to non-U.S. Locations to wait for their visas to be issued, Price said. “Our plan is to take them to places outside of the United States where they will be safe and where they will be accommodated during this period of treatment, which can last for several months,” he said.

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