6,500 Afghans evacuated to UAE nonetheless caught in limbo awaiting U.S. resettlement

Fatima’s software to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds has been pending for her complete life.

In September, Fatima will flip 1, as will the emergency immigration software that was submitted to the U.S. authorities on her behalf per week after her beginning. 

Towards seemingly insurmountable odds confronted by different Afghans searching for U.S. entry, Fatima’s mother and father have been granted particular permission to enter the U.S. final yr due to her father’s work within the Afghan presidential palace earlier than the Taliban reconquered Afghanistan, authorities paperwork present.

However the U.S. has but to adjudicate the applying filed on behalf of Fatima, who was born simply 16 days after her mother and father’ petitions have been accredited. The ten-month wait has positioned the household in authorized and emotional limbo, testing their religion within the U.S. and its promise of offering refuge to weak Afghans.

“We’re in a really dangerous scenario,” mentioned Fatima’s father, Mohammed, whose software for humanitarian parole, the particular permission to enter the U.S., was granted on September 1, 2021. “Day-to-day, the scenario is hard. That is precisely like a jail.”

The household has been caught within the United Arab Emirates since their evacuation from Afghanistan in October 2021. They requested for his or her names to be modified, citing considerations about their security and that of kinfolk in Afghanistan as a result of Mohammed’s work as a high-level official within the presidential palace.

Mohammed, his spouse and Fatima are amongst hundreds of Afghan evacuees who’ve been stranded in third international locations for months — and in lots of instances, for near a yr — anxiously ready to seek out out whether or not the U.S. will comply with resettle them, even almost a yr after the autumn of Kabul and the chaotic U.S. evacuations.

Roughly 6,500 Afghan evacuees stay on the Emirates Humanitarian Metropolis, an condominium advanced within the outskirts of Abu Dhabi that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to transform right into a makeshift refugee housing facility, based on beforehand undisclosed U.S. State Division information shared with CBS Information.

A number of the Afghans within the Humanitarian Metropolis arrived within the UAE final summer season, quickly after the U.S.-aligned authorities in Kabul collapsed. Others have been evacuated from Afghanistan final fall on constitution flights overseen by nongovernmental teams.

Rally In Abu Dhabi's Afghan Refugee Camp
Afghans rallied in an Afghan refugee camp in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, to protest the non-transfer to the USA on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022.

Sayed Najafizada/NurPhoto through Getty Pictures

They embody Afghans hoping to obtain a Particular Immigrant Visa as a result of they assisted the U.S. battle effort; households and people who consider they could possibly be harmed by the Taliban due to their work, ethnicity, gender or different causes; and different evacuees who managed to get on an evacuation flight.­

Not like greater than 70,000 Afghans who have been instantly evacuated after which rapidly resettled by the U.S. final yr after some safety vetting, these residing within the Humanitarian Metropolis have been subjected to a slower, case-by-case immigration evaluation by U.S. officers that doesn’t embody a assure of U.S. resettlement.

U.S. coverage is answerable for the disparate processing. Afghans who have been evacuated to the UAE earlier than Aug. 31, 2021, have been successfully assured permission to enter the U.S. in the event that they handed sure medical and safety checks, the State Division instructed CBS Information. However those that arrived after Aug. 31, 2021, have been required to show they qualify for a U.S. immigration profit, comparable to a visa or refugee standing. 

Kabul fell to the Taliban on Aug. 15, 2021, and the final U.S. navy planes left the nation simply earlier than midnight on Aug. 31. The speedy takeover sparked a humanitarian disaster, displacing hundreds of thousands of Afghans. A whole bunch of hundreds crossed the border into neighboring Pakistan, together with unregistered refugees residing in makeshift shelters who instructed CBS Information about their plight in June. In a U.S. navy base in Kosovo, Afghan evacuees subjected to heightened vetting instructed CBS Information they felt “like prisoners.”

The State Division mentioned the U.S. is reviewing the instances of all Afghans left on the Humanitarian Metropolis. The division mentioned the U.S. has continued to course of some Afghans there, noting {that a} whole of 17,000 evacuees have handed by the Humanitarian Metropolis and that the majority who’ve departed have been resettled within the U.S.

However the State Division acknowledged that not all Afghans within the Humanitarian Metropolis will qualify for U.S. resettlement, saying it has been urging different international locations to resettle these evacuees.

“The US is totally dedicated to supporting Afghans at Emirates Humanitarian Metropolis to succeed in their ultimate vacation spot,” the State Division mentioned in an announcement. “We count on to welcome hundreds extra people to the USA within the close to time period as our dedication to our Afghan allies is enduring.”

However advocates have argued that Afghans on the Humanitarian Metropolis have been unjustly handled in a different way, and even ignored, merely due to the aircraft they have been evacuated on and who oversaw their evacuation.

Joseph Robert, a U.S. veteran who oversaw the evacuation and relocation of some Afghans to the UAE, mentioned it has fallen on personal Americans and the Emirati authorities to assist at-risk Afghans who have been left behind following the hurried U.S. navy withdrawal.

“These Afghans within the UAE have been left in limbo, unsure of their future, unable to supply for his or her family members nonetheless struggling in Afghanistan, whereas the burden of assist has been left within the palms of the American folks and a international nation that sacrificed their time, cash, and assets to do what was proper,” Robert mentioned.

Whereas it is unclear whether or not there is a agency deadline to relocate the remaining Afghans on the Humanitarian Metropolis to the U.S. or third international locations, a facility in Leesburg, Virginia, that has been utilized by the Biden administration to course of new Afghan arrivals is ready to expire of congressional funding on the finish of September.

It is also unclear how lengthy the Emirati authorities is keen to supply housing and different primary requirements to Afghans. In an announcement to CBS Information, the UAE authorities mentioned it was working with the U.S. “to resettle Afghan evacuees in a well timed method,” noting the deal to deal with them was made on a “short-term foundation.”

“The UAE stays dedicated to this ongoing cooperation with the US and different worldwide companions to make sure that Afghan evacuees can reside in security, safety, and dignity,” the Emirati authorities added, saying it’s offering sanitation, well being, medical, counseling, schooling and meals providers to Afghans.

For Mohammed, the previous presidential palace official, the wait has grow to be insufferable. Each time they see different Afghans go away the Humanitarian Metropolis, his household feels a way of hopelessness, Mohammed mentioned.

The scenario has been made worse, he mentioned, by the truth that they don’t seem to be allowed to depart the Humanitarian Metropolis. “Day and night time, we’re within the room,” Mohammed added, saying the extended and indefinite keep has harmed his household’s psychological well being.

U.S. officers rejecting Afghans’ requests to enter nation on humanitarian grounds


Elizabeth Rieser-Murphy, an lawyer for the Authorized Assist Society who’s representing Mohammed’s household, mentioned the infant’s humanitarian parole software must be prioritized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Companies (USCIS) due to her age and the company’s approval of her mother and father’ petitions.

“We perceive that USCIS has restricted assets given the variety of pending parole purposes, however this example is an distinctive circumstance. It’s unfair and inhumane to maintain this household in limbo,” Rieser-Murphy mentioned, noting the household has U.S. citizen kinfolk in New York able to welcome them.

Since July 2021, USCIS has obtained roughly 48,900 humanitarian parole requests from Afghans overseas, unpublished USCIS information present. Out of the 8,427 parole purposes it had adjudicated as of July 28, USCIS denied 8,058 instances, or almost 96% of them, based on the company information.

If his child will not be allowed to enter the U.S. and his household is compelled to return to Afghanistan, Mohammed mentioned he could possibly be imprisoned and even killed, citing accounts of former Afghan authorities officers disappearing or being slain by the Taliban.

“Possibly that is the way forward for our lives,” he mentioned.

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