Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital
The Biden administration has curtailed the number of flights to the United States for Afghans who worked alongside the US; as it prioritizes the evacuation of American personnel from the country; three sources familiar with the situation told CNN.
The last flight of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants and their families bound for Fort Lee; Virginia; has left Afghanistan; four sources said.
One source said that the limitation on the number of flights that are able to transit in and out of the Kabul airport – which was a scene of mass panic and chaos on Sunday — has impeded efforts to evacuate the Afghans who worked alongside the US in its two-decade military campaign.
It is unclear how long the pause in inbound flights will last. As of last week refugee resettlement agencies were preparing for a large influx of Afghan arrivals; two of the sources said; and Biden administration officials were discussing an uptick in SIV flights.
As of last Thursday; 1;200 Afghans and their families had been evacuated to America as part of the administration’s “Operation Allies Refuge;” according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
The Departments of State and Defense have announced that US forces will now take over air traffic control at Kabul airport; in addition to expanding security there.
“Tomorrow and over the coming days; we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan; as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals;” the joint statement from the two agencies said.
“And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas; nearly 2;000 of whom have already arrived in the United States over the past two weeks;” the statement said. “For all categories; Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.”