As the United States prepares to pull its troops out of Afghanistan, the Biden administration announced Monday the U.S. will bring about 2,500 Afghans and their families back to the States. The video above shows the announcement from State Department Spokesman Ned Price.
The Afghans in question worked for the U.S. government during the war. “These are brave Afghans and their families, as we have said, who service the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul and who have completed thorough, SIV security vetting processes,” Spokesman Price said.
They will be housed at Fort Lee near Richmond, Virginia starting next week. The Afghans will stay there throughout the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) approval process.
The group to be housed at Fort Lee is just a small portion of the number of Afghans seeking refuge in the United States. Roughly 20,000 have expressed interest in applying for SIVs. However, only about half of them are far enough along in the vetting process to be considered for relocation.
“Our plan is to take them to locations outside of the United States where they will be safe and where they will be provided accommodation during this processing period, which can last a number of months,” Price said. “But as we have said before, we are striving to shorten these processing times at every stage of the process.”
Monday’s announcement comes amid growing concerns for the safety of Afghans who served as translators and in other support roles for American troops and diplomats. It also comes one day after the leader of the Taliban said his movement is committed to a political settlement to end decades of war in Afghanistan.
Despite this, insurgents have been battling in dozens of districts across the country to gain territory.
Taliban leaders have been meeting with a high-level Afghan government delegation in Qatar to jump-start stalled peace talks.
The talks resumed Saturday, ahead of the four-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which in many parts of the world is expected to start Tuesday.
Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is in Qatar, previously expressed hopes for a reduction in violence and possibly a cease-fire over Eid al-Adha.