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6,500 Afghan refugees are stranded in dire straits awaiting US resettlement

US bans entry of Afghan refugees

Entry application Entry into the United States on humanitarian grounds has been suspended for the rest of her life.

Fatima said she turned one in September, as did the Emergency Immigration Application filed on her behalf with the United States Government one week after her birth. 

Against the seemingly insurmountable odds faced by other Afghans seeking admission to the United States, Fatima's parents last year , was granted special permission to enter the United States because of his father's job. Government documents show the Afghan presidential palace before the Taliban reconquered Afghanistan.

However, the United States rejected the petition filed for Fatima, who was born just 16 days after her parents' petition was approved. not yet ruled. The 10-month wait left her family in legal and emotional turmoil, testing trust in the United States and its promise to provide shelter to vulnerable Afghans. increase.

"We are in a very bad situation," said Fatima's father, Mohammed, who was granted special permission to apply for humanitarian parole to enter the United States on September 1, 2021. Said. The situation is grim. This place is just like a prison.

The family has been stranded in the United Arab Emirates since fleeing Afghanistan in October 2021. They called for a name change, citing concerns about the safety of themselves and their relatives in Afghanistan because of Mohammed's work. A high official in the presidential palace.

Mohammed, his wife, and Fatima are among the thousands of Afghan refugees stranded in third countries for months, and often nearly a year. there is Resettle them even nearly a year after the fall of Kabul and the chaotic U.S. evacuation.

About 6,500 Afghan displaced persons remain in the Emirates Humanitarian City, an apartment complex on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. This is what the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to convert into temporary refugee housing facilities. Department data is shared with CBS News.

Some of the Afghans in Humanitarian City said he arrived in the UAE last summer shortly after the government of Kabul, which is allied with the United States, collapsed. Others fled Afghanistan last fall on charter flights overseen by non-governmental groups. 2022 Sunday February 13th. Sayed Najafizada/NurPhoto via Getty Images

They have Afghans who want to get special immigrant visas for aiding the US war. It contains. Efforts; families or individuals who believe they may be harmed by the Taliban because of their work, ethnicity, gender, or any other reason.

Unlike the more than 70,000 Afghans who were directly displaced,those living in the Humanitarian City,rapidly resettled by the United States last year , undergoing slower, case-by-case immigration review by U.S. authorities, which does not include U.S. resettlement guarantees.

US policy is responsible for different processing. An Afghan who had fled to the UAE before August 31, 2021, was virtually guaranteed admission to the U.S. if he passed certain medical and security checks, the State Department said. told CBS News. However, those arriving after August 31, 2021 will need to prove they are eligible for U.S. immigration benefits such as visas and refugee status. 

Kabul fell into Taliban hands on his 15th August 2021 and the last US military aircraft left the country just before midnight on his 31st August. Millions of Afghanshundreds of thousands crossed the border into neighboring Pakistan. Among them were unregistered refugees who told CBS News of their plight in June. At the military base,told CBS News that they felt "like prisoners."

The State Department said the United States was investigating all Afghan cases left in humanitarian cities. The State Department said the United States continued to process Afghans there, noting that a total of 17,000 evacuees had passed through humanitarian cities, with most of those who departed resettled in the United States.

However, the State Department said not all Afghans in Humanitarian City, which it acknowledged, would be eligible for U.S. resettlement and urged other countries to resettle evacuees. increase.

"The United States is committed to helping Afghans in the Emirates Her Humanitarian City reach their final destination," the State Department said in a statement. "With our continued commitment to our allies in Afghanistan, we expect to welcome thousands more individuals to the United States in the near future."

Afghans claim that they are being treated unfairly differently and even ignored.

Joseph Robert, a U.S. veteran who oversaw the evacuation and relocation of some Afghans to the UAE, said that rushing to help stranded and at-risk Afghans was a private sector effort. He said it was up to the American people and the Emirati government. U.S. forces withdraw.

"Afghans in the United Arab Emirates are left in limbo with uncertainty about their future, unable to feed their loved ones who are still suffering in Afghanistan. Instead, the burden of aid rests in the hands of the American people, and foreign countries who have sacrificed their time, money and resources to do the right thing," Robert said.

It is unclear whether there is a firm deadline for transferring Afghans remaining in Humanitarian City to the United States or a third country, but the Leesburg, Va. The congressional budget runs out at the end of September, which is used to handle the arrival of people.

It is also unclear whether the Emirati government is willing to provide housing and other basic necessities to Afghans. In a statement to CBS News, the UAE government said it would work with the US to "resettle Afghan displaced persons in a timely manner", noting that the contract to house them was made "temporarily". did.

"The UAE remains committed to ongoing cooperation with the United States and other international partners to ensure that Afghan displaced persons live in safety, security and dignity," it said. The Emirati government added that it was providing sanitation and health. , clinical, counseling, education, and food services to Afghans.

For Muhammad, a former presidential official, the wait proved unbearable. Mohammed said his family feels hopeless whenever they see other Afghans leaving humanitarian cities.

The situation is made worse by the fact that evictions from humanitarian cities are not allowed, he said. "We are in the room day and night," Mohammed added, noting that the prolonged and indefinite stay had damaged his family's mental health.

Elizabeth Reaser Murphy, a Legal Aid Society attorney representing Mohammed's family, said that because of her age and the approval of the authorities, the baby's humanitarian parole application was filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service ( USCIS). About her parents' pleas.

"While we understand USCIS resources are limited given the number of pending parole applications, this situation is an exceptional one. It is unfair and inhumane," said Rieser-Murphy. The family has US citizen relatives in New York ready to welcome them.

Since July 2021, USCIS has received about 48,900 humanitarian parole applications from Afghans abroad, her unpublished USCIS data shows. Of her 8,427 parole applications granted as of July 28, 8,058, or nearly 96 percent, have been denied by USCIS, according to USCIS data.

Said Muhammad could be imprisoned or even killed if his baby was not allowed into the United States and his family was forced to return to Afghanistan,Citing reports of the disappearance of former Afghan government officials. orkilled by the Taliban

"Maybe this is the future of our lives," he said.

Camilo Montoya-Galvez
Camilo Montoya-Galvez

Camilo Montoya Galvez is an immigration reporter for CBS News. Based in Washington, he covers immigration policy and politics.

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