Many At-Risk Afghans Unfairly Left Behind During Kabul Evacuation, Refugee Says
07:19 GMT 04.09.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 06.08.2022)
EL PASO (Sputnik) - Hamed Ahmadi, an Afghan refugee currently housed at a US military base in Texas, said that the chaotic evacuation at Kabul international airport was inevitable but many who were more at risk should not have been left behind.
"I understand the emergency nature of this evacuation, and no matter what, it would face challenges, but the main issue with the evacuation is that a lot of those whose lives are genuinely at risk couldn’t make it while you hear people who are not really at risk had the chance to get evacuated," Ahmadi said. "I even hear non-Afghans like Pakistanis and Iranians also had the chance to get evacuated. This is not fair."
The security risk at Kabul airport intensified each day of the evacuation mission, eventually reaching a breaking point when the Daesh-K* terrorist group carried out a suicide bombing at the Kabul, which reportedly left 170 Afghan civilians dead, including 13 US troops.
"My family and so many friends of mine who are at risk are left behind in Kabul," Ahmadi said. "They missed the evacuation but they’re trying to find a way out of the country. Unfortunately this is not easy at this point."
Ahmadi worked for a US non-government organization that submitted a P2 visa application on his behalf. He was able to navigate his way through a sea of Afghan refugees flooding the Kabul airport in mid-August and boarded a flight out of Afghanistan on 23 August.
"It was not easy," Ahmadi said. "We waited many days to finally be sure to get to the airport gate. Our colleagues in the US who helped us with the whole evacuation process did a very good coordination for our safe passage through the gate. When i made it into the airport I got a flight 24 hours later."
The Taliban has repeatedly conveyed that women will be able to continue to work and that Afghan partners of the United States will be able to evacuate the country, but Ahmadi is not convinced.
"Taliban never respect human rights," Ahmadi said. "They haven’t changed and they’re just trying to fool the world that they have. Their fundamental ideological drives are in conflict with human rights and any modern values."
Ahmadi spoke to Sputnik from inside the Dona Ana training complex, which is part of the Fort Bliss military base that is headquartered in the Texas city of El Paso. The complex currently houses more than 4,000 Afghan refugees.
"The overall conditions in the facility is not good but you can’t really complain much if you try to understand the situation here," Ahmadi said. "We live in this big white tents, sleep on military camping beds. The food is okay but the portions are small and don’t feed a grown man."
Although the federal government is working to improve conditions at the complex, he suggested there needs to be better measures to improve hygiene and other issues.
"Many people here don’t have new clothes and they’re having the same clothes on since their evacuation from Kabul," Ahmadi said.
Ahmadi noted that US military and federal care workers have treated everyone well at the facility.
Ahmadi and the other refugees went through an initial interview including biometric and medical screenings. They are now waiting to be resettled somewhere in the United States.
"We’re told that we’re being granted work permit and some other assistance after two weeks to get resettled preferably in the cities we have friends and family," Ahmadi said.
US media reported that Afghan evacuees who arrived without visas will only be eligible for 90 days of limited assistance from the federal government including a one-time payment of $1,250. Afghan evacuees who arrived through the US refugee program will be eligible for a full range of medical, counseling and resettlement services provided by the federal government.
More than 25,000 Afghan refugees evacuated from Afghanistan after the Taliban* took over the country are being housed in military bases in the United States. On Friday, a senior military official said a vast majority of these refugees are asylum seekers. Earlier this week, a State Department official said initial information indicates a majority of Afghans who applied for US visas were left behind.
*The Taliban and Daesh-K are terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.