Biden administration weighs options for displaced Afghans who may not pass checks

Returning to Afghanistan is only one option on the table – and comes with complex legal questions – but it is being studied as US officials have yet to develop a master plan on how to handle the challenge. about where to resettle Afghans if they do. unclear about US security clearance process.

The hasty and chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan in the final weeks of August has left the US government scrambling to set up sites across Europe and the Middle East to handle dozens of thousands of people evacuated. About 70,000 people have already arrived in the United States, others have been cleared to go to partner third countries, and those with cases that require broader testing are being transferred to Camp Bondsteel in eastern Kosovo.

According to a source close to the situation, the number of people evacuating at the base is small – about 200 people, including family members, and the authorities have made an agreement with the Kosovo government to keep them there for up to one hour. year.

Many of the evacuees taken to Bondsteel for processing were cleared and shipped to the US, the sources said; a senior administration official told CNN last week that no one is considered “finally unfit for entry into the United States.”

However, some U.S. officials and lawmakers are concerned that if any of the evacuees do not eventually get clearance to reach the United States, there will be few suitable options for them and they may have to wait. waiting at a US base for a long time.

Meanwhile, sources close to the situation told CNN there’s a sense of anxiety among Afghan community members at the base, many of whom don’t know why they were sent there or whether they how long they will be there and worry they will be. stigmatized as a “terrorist” for being processed there.

The senior administration official said that the sort of security flag that causes people to be shipped to Bondsteel from other transit locations in Europe and the Middle East is generally not the kind that “can be resolved in hours or even hours.” even for a few days.” The official noted that some types of checks can be more complex and may involve the FBI or other interviewers engaging in questioning about information the United States has obtained.

“It can be a more time-consuming process than … just removing someone based on fingerprints or facial photos,” the official said. “That’s the kind of way that the kind of longer process going on at Bondsteel could be useful.”

National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said that “all Afghans hoping to start a new life in the United States must first pass our security screening and screening process and receive vaccines.” required before they are allowed to enter the United States.”

“The fact that some people are flagged by our counterterrorism, intelligence or law enforcement experts for further screening shows that our systems are working,” she continued.

State Department ‘believes’ they can be resettled

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US government is “confident that these displaced Afghans will be able to be resettled in the United States or in third countries as appropriate.”

The senior administration official said they were “eyes wide open that there is at least a distinct possibility that there will be some subset of further reductions that will require work to be relocated in a safe, humane manner.” and suit them.”

The US hasn’t sent anyone back to Afghanistan, but the official said it “will leave all such possibilities on the table, including that you could have evacuees for which that is a preferred destination.” theirs if the United States is not an option.”

That option is mired in human rights concerns and legal questions, as international law prohibits the forced return and forced return of those who will be tortured.

There are two circumstances under which they can legally be returned.

The first would be involuntary deportation, which is not a violation of human rights if Afghans claim they have been subjected to unacceptable persecution and torture. The second is if they have been fully informed of the situation – including an update on what the Taliban have agreed to – and agreed to come back.

Uncertain future

Human rights advocates say there is reason to be skeptical of any commitments the Taliban make.

“There’s a huge amount of salt with any assurance the Taliban will offer,” said Bill Frelick, director of the refugee and migration division at Human Rights Watch. “I didn’t know that their guarantees could be trusted or trusted to the point where you would actually send someone back.”

There are also concerns that the unresolved Afghans could be trapped at the base for a long time because no other country will accept them.

Taliban held military parade with US-made weapons in Kabul to show strength

“It’s a big concern,” Frelick said.

Sources told CNN that for the Afghans at the base, there are questions and concerns about being there and what’s in store for their future.

“Their worries revolve around the fact that their future is uncertain and they don’t know where they are going with their families,” said Labinot Maliqi, a Kosovo leader who regularly visits US military bases. explained to CNN.

Another source noted that the evacuees “just want to start their lives but they don’t have any certainty.”

“Particularly for those who are waiting for their spouses or family members to be released, they just feel like they are in limbo,” they said.


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