Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Some 18,000 Helpers Seeking to Flee Afghanistan Before US Troops Pull Out, Blinken Says - Sputnik International

(Sputnik) - Around 18,000 Afghans who have assisted US forces in Afghanistan are seeking to leave the country before the United States' withdrawal is completed by September 11, but only half of them have so far filled out the necessary paperwork, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"There are about 18,000 people who have expressed interest – or more – in using this program to come to the United States," Blinken told an Atlantic Council podcast on Monday." In other words, 18,000 people who worked directly with our soldiers, with our diplomats in Afghanistan."

Blinken said half of that number had already completed the necessary bureaucratic processes but the other half was just starting them.

    "About 9,000 of those are just in the beginning of the process. They’ve expressed interest, they’re looking at it, they haven’t filled out the forms. Another 9,000, though, have filled out the forms. They’re working through the process, and we’ve got a number of them that are awaiting approval by our embassy in Afghanistan and others who are actually in the immigration process itself," he said.

The State Department had added 50 officials to those dealing with the Special Immigrant Visas required by those individuals and they had already succeeded in eliminating some backlogs that had existed in the process, Blinken said.

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